Go online now and book tickets for the limited run of Gruesome Playground Injuries, now playing at The Fishtank Performance Studio– a small, intimate 30 seat theater– and then attend and watch two very talented actors perform the Kansas City debut of the story of a 30-year relationship of two good friends.
Gruesome Playground Injuries, written by Rajiv Joseph, and locally directed by Sidonie Garrett, features the talents of Heidi Van and Chris Roady. Both give outstanding characterization of Kayleen and Doug, two elementary friends whose friendship grows and changes over a 30-year span.
Beauty within the piece comes from the character development of Kayleen and Doug who first meet at age eight in the school nurse’s office, and their friendship grows. The piece demonstrates how a close relationship among director and actors crafts a simple piece into an astounding performance.
The relationship of Kayleen and Doug resembles that of an edgy Charlie Brown and Lucy friendship. They develop a lasting friendship through love and dislike situations. They love each other, but they disagree– a lot. Van and Roady perfect each scene and age level of the characters as Gruesome Playground Injuries unfolds. Through the worst of times, the friendship heals their wounds. And, like all lives, many situations change and affect friendship.
American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Friendship is a gift from God.” Gruesome Playground Injuries extolls the virtues of deep relationships between two friends. Joseph’s play depicts that type of friendship.
Van and Roady deliver high-caliber performances as the characters grow together and separately. At age eight, they become eight-year-olds and not an adult playing a child. They make the audience believe they are young. At 13, again, they don the characteristics and insecurities of young adolescents full of internal insecurities. At each age, expect to see a new, more fully developed characterization. Both Van and Roady give strong and earthy performances as Kayleen and Doug.
Overall, the play contains a few problems that are unresolved, but those do not distract from the overall piece of literature. Gruesome Playground Injuries plays very well in a small, intimate setting but would lose its connection with audiences in a large auditorium. The show needs the intimacy of a small theater to keep the viewers submerged in its plot development.
Gruesome Playground Injuries entertains and educates viewers on the meaning of true friendship. It falls short of challenging audiences to learn and grow. That does not diminish the excellence of the Fishtank’s production. The weakness lies only in the script.
The show is highly recommended and only plays for two more weekends. Being a small venue, reservations are necessary to avoid disappointment at the theater. For those that enjoy seeing actors perform to the best of their abilities, this is a show to see.