Gruesome Playground Injuries

Rajiv Joseph

Phantom Owl Productions

Basic Mountain

From 05 August 2015 to 31 August 2015

Rating: ****

Review by Philip Fisher

Phantom Owl Productions at Basic Mountain might be the Fringe's best kept theatre secret.

The company from the States is concentrating on theatre from home and delivering highly professional work to tiny audiences.

They have managed a coup by staging the British première of Neil LaBute’s complementary debut play.

Gruesome Playground Injuries follows the unacknowledged love between Doug and Kayleen across 25 years, observed in non-sequential five-yearly snapshots.

To describe the pair as unfortunate is to understate the case. Poor Doug, played by Brad Fleischer, has at the very least an injury wish, falling off things and carrying out various other unwise acts so that, by the end of the 75 minutes, he is one-eyed in a wheelchair seemingly close to meeting his maker.

Jules Willcox as Kayleen has problems that are generally self-inflicted, with knives and self-loathing.

Rajiv Joseph cleverly builds up detailed portraits of the pair and their intense relationship, which threatens to bring happiness to one or other but never both at the same time.

This is gritty American drama at its best, well directed by Larissa Kokernot, and readers are urged to visit this new venue and try out its programme.