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BWW Review: GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES - A Must-See, Ideal Convergence of Creative Talent


GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES/written by Rajiv Joseph/directed by John Hindman/Hudson Backstage Theatre/thru June 26, 2016

Rajiv Joseph's very tricky to pull off GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES lands at the Hudson Backstage as a stunning success! Considering the main conceit of GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES requires two actors playing a 30-year age range from 8 to 38; in less capable hands, this seventy-minute one-act would have been so ripe for missteps.

GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES follows the trajectory of two parochial school eight-year-olds, Kayleen and Doug, as they grow up, go through life changes and meet again at ages 13, 18, 23, 28, 33 and 38. Various kinds of injury or illness bring the two together at these different periods.

John Hindman deftly directs his two very talented actors effectively communicating Joseph's smart, age-appropriate dialogue. Each scene begins with larger-than-life graphics of the age Kayleen and Doug will be presenting. In between scenes, the two actors can be seen lit overhead, or backlit, while hidden in plain sight changing their costumes to the outfits appropriate for their age they're to portray next. Kudos to Movement Consultant Sarah McCarron for 'choreographing' the quick changes. Each piece of clothing and accessories is pre-placed in specific spots upstage. While the two actors change, Dustin Reno's videos of playground activities run on the back scrims filling the blank mainstage time.

Sara Rae Foster and Jeff Ward's perfectly cast as Kayleen and Doug. Both very convincingly play their roles at the various required ages, via a combination of their vocal deliveries, their body language and A. Jeffrey Schoenberg's very age-specific, attitude-defining costumes.

Doug's the daredevil and instigator of the two. Ward initially charms as the bloodied, eight-year-old comparing scars and wounds with Foster's 'Leenie' in the nurse's outer office. Their developing chemistry easily become quite evident even through their awkward growing pains, and then their combative adultness. Grown-up Doug still believes Leenie's touch can cure him of any of his physical ailments; as each time he recovers, he credits Leenie's hands. In Leenie's visit to a comatose Doug, Foster nails Leenie's soliloquy voicing her helplessness and her deep bond to Doug. As much as she does not believe her hands can heal, she earnestly goes through the motions because Doug believes just that.

A clean, bare-bones set designed by J R Bruce, Leigh Allen's intriguing intra-scene lighting and utilitarian sound design by Chris Moscatiello - all contribute to this amazing production, co-produced by Colleen Camp Productions and Crazyface Productions.

Bravo to All involved! Do not languish (one of Leenie's favorite words) and go see GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES. You will want to know why "Does it hurt?"

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From This Author Gil Kaan