It’s an odd realisation sitting in the audience expecting a musical and then nobody sings. To be sure, it doesn’t help that on the program cover the two leads are mid-guffaw, no doubt foreshadowing a scene of musical larks and japes and then the play begins and you gently realise you were so, so, wrong.
That isn’t to say the show isn’t without moments of levity, but what becomes uncomfortably apparent is that this is a story of a universe where Doug (Christian Charisiou) and Kayleen (Laura McIntosh) are unable to get their time right at any point in their lives.
Those times of meeting are shuffled, the play taking a non-linear approach in telling their story. There’s a lovely wistful quality to the structure that highlights how Doug and Kayleen are always out of sync.
Both performers were excellent and committed. Christian gave Doug plenty of gusto without tipping his affection for Kayleen over the edge into something unhinged or dangerous. Kayleen has her own troubles, and Laura did great work in showing us a grounded character with troubles above and below the surface.
While the precision and geometry of the space – all props laid out on a sheet at the start, which get methodically removed as the play progresses – was appreciated, these transitions (and thus the overall momentum of the show) could have been helped immeasurably by speeding them up.
There’s courage in presenting a love story that lacks a happy ending, or even a hopeful one. What we do end with is a final image of common ground, which for some of us is all we can hope for and hope that it’s enough.
Gruesome Playground Injuries
The Loft – Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Performance: Sunday 14 October 2018 – 5.00pm
Season continues to 20 October 2018
Information and Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au
Image: Christian Charisiou and Laura McIntosh star in Gruesome Playground Injuries (supplied)
Review: David Collins