Love Written in the Scars: ‘Gruesome Playground Injuries’ Opens Friday

Love hurts. It also bleeds, scars and sometimes needs a trip to the emergency room. 

Theatre [502] continues its second season this week with Rajiv Joseph’s “Gruesome Playground Injuries.” Leah Roberts and company co-artistic director Mike Brooks will play Kayleen and Doug, two accident-prone lovers who trace their 30-year relationship from the schoolyard to adulthood, beginning at age 8. 

The play opens Friday and runs through August 11 in the Victor Jory Theatre at Actors Theatre of Louisville. 

Director Gil Reyes says he was drawn to the play’s nonlinear treatment of Kayleen and Doug’s traumatic love affair. The play goes back and forth in time, and each scene is punctuated by a bloody injury. 

“When I trace memories back of my relationships, they’re not linear. I don’t start at the beginning. I go back and think of the good and the bad points until I have the whole picture. I think a lot of people do,” says Reyes, who is also one of three co-artistic directors of the company.

Theatre [502] stages recent plays by acclaimed younger playwrights, like Jordan Harrison, whose “Futura” opened the company’s season in June. Joseph has won many national awards, including a Whiting Writer's Award and a USA Fellowship, and his play “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. 

“(The play) accomplishes a few of Theatre [502]’s goals,” says Reyes. “One is providing really juicy roles for these two actors to sink their teeth into. Obviously, given the structure and the ages they play, they’re incredibly difficult, and they’re also emotionally difficult to launch into.”

The company also strives to stage plays that are relevant to younger adult audiences. Kayleen and Doug’s traumatic history and compelling love story tell a universal story of how deeply love can hurt.

“This play is really identifiable,” says Reyes. “You get a real sense of fate as you follow them through these 30 years of their lives, that they couldn’t get away from each other if they wanted to.”

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