What's it about?
Gruesome Playground Injuries follows the various meetings of two friends, Doug and Kayleen, as random physical and emotional trauma brings their lives together over the course of 30 years.
What'd I experience?
I'm going to get this out of the way and say that this show was nothing like I expected. I thought by the picture and the description that I was going to have a nice little fun time in the theater. Fast forward to about halfway through the show and I'm having an existential crisis, thinking about every decision I've ever made, and wondering "why am I laughing and crying at the same time, what is going on?" Also I found the woman in the show very attractive. Does that have to do anything? No. Do I regret mentioning it? Also no.
Like every show I go to held at Under St. Mark's, I was ready to have a great time in a cozy little theater. The set was nice and cozy, with just a table-bed-thing like they have in the doctor's office (aren't I so good with words?), two chairs, and a small filing cabinet with a medical kit on it. Then, on the back wall was a chalkboard with the words "Gruesome Playground Injuries" written in the most perfect chalkboard font. As the show was starting I was really admiring that font for some reason, and as I was wondering how long it must have taken to make, the woman in the show erased it. My first thought was "well there goes all that effort" but then she begins to effortlessly recreate the same exact font and my mind was blown for some reason. She continued to write out the words "Age: 8" followed by "Face split in half" and I immediately understood what was going on. They set up the time and scenario for each scene with their age, and the nature of their meeting. And they didn't remain chronological through the show, instead they jumped between moments that made more sense for the narrative. I love when stories are told in a way like this (kind of like Memento, Pulp Fiction), I don't really know why it's just pleasing to me.
One thing I do want to mention before I get into my whole self reflecting crisis that the show gave me, was what went on between scenes. This soft very comforting music would play as they rearranged what was necessary on stage, changed clothes, and re wrote the scenario on the chalkboard. The man and woman would look so lovingly at each other as they helped each other get ready, and they almost moved perfectly along to the music. It was such a warm vibe the whole thing gave off, and watching Kayleen put the makeup on Doug creating his wounds right in front of us was so satisfying to watch for some reason. They would have Doug face away from the audience and you would just see her working on his face, and when he would finally turn around there was this really cool shock value to the whole thing.
Oh and there was a scene where they were at a school dance and both "Hey Ya" by Outkast and "My Love" by Justin Timberlake played. That's really all I have to say about that, I just felt the need to mention that two of the greatest songs of the 2000's were played.
Now this show touched my soul. It got all the way down to my core for some reason, and I couldn't help but find myself reflecting on my life during it. It was probably because I connected with and saw a lot of myself in Doug. He was an accident-prone, compulsive, kind of goofy guy who was too nice for his own good. He was constantly doing things that most people would consider dangerously stupid, and would do anything to see the people he loved smile. That right there is pretty much a perfect description of me. Ever since I was little I've almost constantly had some sort of injury, whether it be a small cut or giant bruise, and almost all are due to my own carelessness or stupidity (yeah, Doug had it a little worse than me with the whole losing his eye thing, but the comparison is still there). Even his morbid curiosity to know what a certain kind of pain would feel like hits home to me, like I've always wondered what being tazed feels like. I'm always trying to cheer up the people I love, and am willing to do whatever it takes to do that. And I'm willing to put my faith in anyone despite who they are or what they've done (with some exceptions). I even have people like Kayleen in my life, who have problems that I know I can't really solve but I try my hardest to do whatever I can to make things just a little bit easier. The parallels were just blowing my mind, even our choice of Girl Scout Cookie was the same, obviously Thin Mints are the only choice and I will have none of your "oh but what about Samoas" shit.
It literally made me just take a step back and think "wow, I'm about to be 20 in less than two weeks, life is as crazy as it is, and my life could easily get crazier." All the ages that they were showing aren't insanely far off, and each scene was just drilling more and more into my head to hold onto the things that you love in life and really appreciate it's value. Is it normal for a 19 year old to be having a life crisis like this? Because I feel like I'm overreacting but at the same time I feel justified.
But yeah after the show I went to Papaya king and got two hot dogs, fried Oreos, and some papaya juice, so crisis averted.