Gruesome Playground Injuries: a life journey

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It begins when Kayleen [Sara Rae Foster] and Doug [Jeff Ward] meet each other for the first time in the school nurse’s office. Kayleen has an upset stomach but Doug, well Doug has his face split open from a gruesome playground injury. She is curious, very curious and asks to touch his wound. Doug agrees and somehow there is magic in her touch. And so it begins a three decade life journey.

As their respective lives take form Doug seems to experience an ever widening degree of physical injury largely from engaging in rather over the top high trick activities. At age eighteen it is only pinkeye which he is all too willing to share with Kayleen, but by age 23 Doug’s eye gets blown out. As his injuries take an ever-increasing toll on his body, Kayleen is suffering her pain in the form of mental anguish which ultimately leads her to a psychiatric hospital.

As their lives unfold upon the stage it becomes clear that these two people, Doug and Kayleen were truly meant for each other. But it is the journey and not the destination that captures and holds the audience.

Beginning with their first encounter at age eight, it is a story filled with youthful exuberance and plenty of humor. That element of humor continues when they meet up again at thirteen and once again age eighteen when Doug is eager to share his pinkeye and Kayleen is far too willing to reveal to Doug her latest personal adventure. But then the story becomes darker.

There are eight scenes in all, each performed superlatively by Sara Rae Foster and Jeff Ward. Throughout it is made obvious to the audience that there is indeed some magic chemistry between the two characters. It becomes equally as obvious that particularly Kayleen denies that chemistry up until the very end.

That end is somewhat ambiguous but the resolution is apparent and the tale is well told. Gruesome Playground Injuries is a rather unique piece of theatre magic brought to life by its creator Rajiv Joseph, acted by Sara Rae Foster and Jeff Ward and directed by John Hindman.

It is at the Hudson Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90038. It runs now through June 26th with show times Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.

Tickets and reservations are available by calling 323-960-7773 or online at:

Photo by Ed Krieger