This slightly perplexing play is absorbing enough: a physically daredevil young boy meets a psychologically fragile girl, and we see them meeting up at various points during the next 30 years.
The dialogue is well-written and well-acted, and there are some nice moments of comedy as well as intensity between the two characters. The youthfully traded insults feel real even when the construct of meeting every five years feels artificial.
But while the play delves into some serious issues, it's unclear exactly what it's trying to say. Possibly that it's hard to let people in when we're going through rough times. That it can be easier to believe you can take your friend's physical pain away, than to believe that they can help ease your sorrow. After all, letting them help means making yourself more vulnerable; they might leave and compound your sadness.
Dawn Glover brings wonderful energy to a role that could otherwise slip into two-dimensional victimhood (in the first scene, her aversion to the sun suggests a goth-in-waiting; but disappointingly such character development never eventuates). Tyler Brailey is also great, bringing a very real sensibility to the Evel Knievel wannabe with a fascination for the abject: after gashing his face, he says blood "tastes like fruit".
Nicci Reuben's direction follows American playwright Rajiv Joseph's wish that costume (and scar) changes between scenes take place onstage at a leisurely pace to show the passing of time. It seems misguided - we're shown the characters' changing ages and we still have to imagine a bit of time passing given we're not in the theatre for 30 years.
But the inter-scene melancholy music has been carefully chosen for its lyrics, helping to sustain the mood throughout, and Ross Goffin's golden-mean "stained glass" artwork that dominates the set is mesmerising.
Characters and themes are rather underdeveloped but nonetheless this is an interesting flirtation with injury fetish. Sightlines are sketchy; sit near the front.
What: Gruesome Playground Injuries
Where & when: Lot 23, Minnie St, Newton; to Saturday, September 17