July 25, 2013

Sort of a love story

By ROBIN CAUDELL Press-Republican

---- — UPPER JAY — “Gruesome Playground Inquiries” is the misleading title of a new play by critically acclaimed playwright Rajiv Joseph, a Pulitzer nominee.

The show opens tonight at the Recovery Lounge in Upper Jay. It is directed by Scott Renderer and features an original score by Chris Kowanko.

“It’s really a love story, but a different kind of love story than most,” Renderer said. “The title is more of a metaphor for these wounds that are psychic and physical that these kids suffer at age 8 when the two characters fall in love in a parochial-school infirmary. The play follows them the next 30 years of their lives in a nonlinear fashion. It’s individual scenes like vignettes that cover three decades.”

The scenes fluctuate from age 8 to 23, 13 and so on.

“You go backwards and forwards,” Renderer said. “It’s a very interesting theatrical structure. The characters are Kayleen (Olivia Zeis) and Doug (Martin Deslauriers). She’s the character with more psychological injuries. She comes from a broken home and has an abusive father. These are working-class kids. The character of Doug, he’s like a goofy daredevil. His injuries are mostly external. 

“It has a little bit of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to it. She’s sort of a damsel in distress, and he’s a knight who’s willing to suffer almost anything on her behalf.”

Zeis and Deslauriers portray the characters at every age.

“Chris Kowanko has written music for all our plays at the Recovery Lounge,” Renderer said. “He has written an extensive score for the play, which is an added bonus for all of us.”

Zeis recently starred in “Evita” at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.

“Marty (Deslauriers) has been in our productions since he was 8 years old as a backstage hand,” Renderer said. “This is his first opportunity to play a leading role in a major production.”

“Gruesome Playground Injuries” is mild enough for the fainthearted.

“There’s not very much blood in it at all,” Renderer said. “There is a warning for language. I really hope that older teenagers and young people come to see the play. It speaks to their generation in a way most plays don’t these days.”

Set changes are a secret surprise.

“These actors are terrific,” Renderer said. “We started rehearsing in late March. They were saying to me they remember wearing heavy coats and sitting around the heater when we started reading the play together. And now, we’re sweating quite a bit.”

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IF YOU GO WHAT: "Gruesome Playground Injuries" directed by Scott Renderer. WHEN: Today; Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 26 through 28; and Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 1 through 4. All shows are at 8 p.m. ADMISSION: $18 general admission. $10 for students. NOTE: Reservations are required by calling 946-8315.