Gruesome Playground Injuries is not your typical love story but love story it is! Doug and Kayleen first meet during their elementary school years when they both occupy the nurse’s station – she suffering from a stomach ache; he suffering from wounds attained during his self misadvised dive off the school roof. Over the next thirty years, they will meet again and again, brought together by injury, heartbreak and their own self destructive tendencies.
Brought to Chapel Off Chapel by Good Grandson Productions, Gruesome Playground Injuries promises a compelling and unconventional love story.
For actor, (and Founder/Artistic Director of Good Grandson Productions) Christian Charisiou, the journey towards producing this play started last year in LA with his acting coach Lisa Robertson in her studio. “She gifted me one of the last scenes of the play and that is where I fell in love with Gruesome Playground Injuries”, he says. “This play explores love and all its pain between two friends and kindred spirits – Kayleen and Doug. After exploring the scene in Lisa’s class, I felt I wasn’t done with the play and I wanted to put it on, so, I started my production company ‘Good Grandson Productions’, bought the rights and here we are today!”
Charisiou says that as an actor he loves how this play aches and how it uses dark humour and sharp wit to explore these characters’ lives over thirty years. “Playing an age of ranges and the arc of these characters relationship in jumbled chronology is a gift of a challenge,” he says
The play is written by US playwright, and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Rajiv Joseph, and explores themes of love, death, pain, self destruction, growing up and all things in-between.
Says Charisiou: “The play explores the themes of love and the pain (both physical and emotional) that we inflict on ourselves and each other in its name, which I believe everyone experiences in their lives. The play puts a magnifying glass on our habits, their relationships and the ripple effect our childhoods have on our adult life. The script before each scene articulates the characters and their ages as “The kids are…” which is the perfect articulation of the dichotomy of these characters and their behaviour.”
Charisiou plays Doug who he describes as a seriously accident prone dreamer and romantic. His whole existence is in the pursuit of Kayleen (played by Laura McIntosh), his best friend and love of his life. Doug and Kayleen meet in the nurses office at 8 years old and from there their relationship is a series of near misses and coming together at the most inconvenient times in each others lives.
“Doug is a brave dreamer and romanticises everything which ultimately is his biggest flaw. He misaims his bold gestures and doesn’t think things through, but his heart is in the right place and a beautiful man/boy,” he says, admiring Doug’s boldness and his want to see the best in people, especially Kayleen.
This is the first time Charisiou has produced and acted in a production, thus it has been a self described learning experience!
“Rehearsals were actually brilliant! Aside from wearing two hats some days, we spent a lot of time exploring and finessing the complex relationship between Doug and Kayleen and working out the best way to transition between the ages of these characters. Aside from our director, Jessica Dick, I hadn’t worked with our team before, but, I have found the whole collaboration with the team to be an incredible process and have created a truly amazing and affecting show,” he says.
Charisiou began Good Grandson Productions about 12 months ago and he is very excited to have been its pilot. The young theatre company is dedicated to bringing relevant and affecting contemporary theatre to Australian audiences. Says Charisiou: “Through Good Grandson Productions, I want to bring more plays that handle universal themes from a modern perspective and resonate through their audiences. Plays like Gruesome Playground Injuries by Rajiv Joseph, Reasons to be Pretty by Neil LaBute, Red Light Winter by Adam Rapp or Dead Accounts by Theresa Rebeck are the types of shows I would like to bring to Australian audiences along with new Australian plays.”
Gruesome Playground Injuries is a potent piece exploring both emotional and physical wounds. Says Charisiou: “If you like love stories with a twist, come and check out ‘Gruesome Playground Injuries’. Its sharp witted, painful, hilarious and will leave you aching for more.”
October 10 – 20