The Austin Chronicle


FronteraFest Long Fringe

Reviewed by Jillian Owens, February 1, 2013, Arts

Gruesome Playground Injuries

Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd.
Final performances: Saturday, Feb. 2, noon; Monday-Wednesday, Feb. 4-6, 8pm
Running time: 1 hr., 30 min.

Capital T Theatre may be best known for the impressive lineup of well-produced, well-received contemporary plays they've mounted recently. Rajiv Joseph's 2011 gem of a love story, Gruesome Playground Injuries, is no exception. But Cap T is less famous for the program that makes them most unique: New Directions, an annual opportunity for a promising young director to shine (most recently, Gary Jaffe and Derek Kolluri). In this production, Kelsey Kling, who you've likely seen onstage at Hyde Park Theatre, dons the director's hat with bells on.

Kling's most impressive accomplishment here is her casting. Jason Newman and Laura Artesi perfectly embody accident-prone childhood friends Doug and Kayleen; their chemistry is exhilarating and their timing impeccable. However, the production's beautifully detailed design – set by Mark Pickell, costumes by Glenda Barnes – might have benefited from a more minimalist approach. Lengthy transitions occasionally impede the play's heartfelt map of a platonic relationship that fails to blossom into something more. Gruesome Playground Injuries nonetheless challenges our yearning for a happily ever after. Though that might not seem an auspicious start for Kling's directing career, I have a feeling we'll see her name at the top of the credits again.

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