Venue: The Actors Pulse (Redfern NSW), Apr 12 – 14, 2019
Playwright: Rajiv Joseph
Director: Mackinnley Bowden
Cast: Ricki Jade, Laura Morris
Kayleen and Doug should think of themselves as soul mates, but they make no promises to each other, never talking about a future beyond today. Having first met as children, with the accident-prone Doug always getting into trouble, and Kayleen on hand to offer assistance, the two set up a pattern of random encounters, based on mishaps and adversity, that would see them through thirty years. Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries is quirky, a funny piece of writing about friendship, or a kind of love that defies categorisation. If we believe that death can occur at any moment, each meeting could well be the last, with a goodbye that is absolute in its finality.
The production is simply assembled. Set designer Steve Stafford’s no frills presentation is memorable for its inclusion of two naked Barbie dolls, crucified and resonantly flanking centre stage. The show is performed by two young women, effectively turning the narrative queer, especially in romantic sections of the play. Ricki Jade and Laura Morris are raw talents yet to communicate rich nuances for their characters, but they are energetic in presence, able to bring some vibrancy to the staging. Director Mackinnley Bowden’s work is spirited, if slightly lacking in depth with what he wishes to convey.
When we try to get plays right, we often forget to be playful. The personalities in Gruesome Playground Injuries are full of mischief, reminding us that being able to find joy in what we do, must always be maintained a priority. Humour especially, is a force that we must harness. It only works when people connect. Where we are able to laugh, lies evidence of consensus and unity, and that uplifting sensation it provides, is one that we know unequivocally, to be able to offer soothe for every ache and ailment.