Gruesome Playground Injuries

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jennifer Carpenter and Pablo Schreiber discuss their roles in Rajiv Joseph’s “Gruesome Playground Injuries.” The play is a dark, romantic saga that explores the cost of wounded friendships. Over the course of 30 years, the lives of Kayleen and Doug intersect at the most bizarre intervals, leading the two childhood friends to compare scars and the physical calamities that keep drawing them together. “Gruesome Playground Injuries” opens on Monday, January 31, at Second Stage Theatre.


Jennifer Carpenter and Pablo Schreiber

Comments [1]

Lloyd from Manhattan

I've had my share of self-destructive behavior, but it's never been physical. I've endured plenty of pain pulling stunts like putting off writing a paper until the night before it was due, but I guess I'm too squeamish for self-mutilation. Plenty of that on stage in Gruesome Playground Injuries which I saw Sunday night in a preview at the Second Stage. A new play by the hot young playwright, Rajiv Joseph, whose Pulitzer finalist, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, will soon open on Bway with Robin Williams as the tiger. Gruesome is a well-crafted yarn performed by a talented duo, Pablo Schreiber and Jennifer Carpenter. She is a pretty TV actress not known to me but who has gained some fame as Dexter's sister in the murderous cable series.

Pablo Schreiber cuts a striking figure at 6'5" with an easy gait and a goofy smile. He is Liev Schreiber's half-brother. Pablo gave a sexy performance two years ago in Desire Under the Elms in which we got to see his lanky torso and well-formed buns. I saw him play a more earnest boy as Ralph in Awake and Sing (he got a Tony nomination for that in 2006.) But he really showed his acting chops to me the next year in Dying City in which he played twins -- one gay, one straight -- and both quite different personalities. Pablo was directed in Dying City by James Macdonald who directed John Gabriel Borkman that I saw on Saturday.

With some nifty theatricality, Joseph follows these two from age 8 to 38, but not in a linear narrative. The scenes jump around with projections telling us what is next. The two are directed by Scott Ellis to show different stages of damaged development. Pablo plays Doug whose mother calls him "accident prone" but who is actually accident-seeking. Jennifer plays Kayleen who pegs him as such, but who is his kindred spirit in self-hatred. Both endure a series of wounds to eyes, teeth, faces, ankles and legs. Doug displays his wounds with glee. Many of the scenes take place in hospital rooms, with Pablo and Jennifer rolling gurneys in and out of the wings while we watch. They also change costumes before us from lockers and drawers built into the side walls of the set by Neil Patel.

Joseph leaves the depth of their relationship for us to decide. But there is no doubt that these damaged souls are drawn to each other in mutual pursuit of pain. I couldn't take my eyes off them.

Jan. 27 2011 01:06 PM

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