“Gruesome Playground Injuries” Review by Rose Desena

This week in theater


                “Gruesome Playground Injuries”


Review by Rose Desena

Rogue Machine is back with a vengeance, up to their old tricks with good thought-provoking theater. Their season opener, “Gruesome Playground Injuries” written by Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo), lives up to their well-deserved reputation.




Kayleen is a tormented soul, with an emptiness that is so deep it’s as if she was born hollow; however, she has a kindred spirit. Kayleen and Doug are so connected they could have been Siamese twins who were separated at birth but still live as one, sharing their profound existence over a thirty-year-period. Not together as boyfriend and girlfriend or husband and wife, but through an emotional bond.




Rajiv Joseph gives the audience a compelling look at a relationship that is so sad it’s almost unimaginable. What is so fascinating though, it’s relatable and it just might take you back to your childhood. That boy next door who was always hurting his self, and that pretty girl who had a wall around her so thick it’s as if she’s invisible and certainly impenetrable.




Jules Willcox is stunning as Kayleen and perfectly cast. Her look is sultry and very believable as the intense struggling individual she portrays. Doug (Brad Fleischer), her male alter ego, is just as striking as the mischievous boy who can’t seem to stay out of the emergency room. Is there more to this, what is the secret they share? You will ask this question quietly to yourself until the very end.


I enjoy powerful, avant-garde work that keeps me thinking for days, it took a bit of time to fully appreciate this complicated script but once in my car it all came to me, and while thinking about it now I have to say it’s simply brilliant. There is a sincerity to it that is unnerving.


Director Larissa Kokernot has done a stellar job, creatively moving the audience through the 30 years of the characters lives.  The set design is lovely, for a moment I thought they had re-done the theater.


Its only 85 minutes, so to say much more would be a spoiler. I wouldn’t wait too long to get tickets.


It has an odd start time of 5 pm on Saturday’s but that is perfect if you’re meeting friends for dinner. There is a Sunday night and a Monday show as well.  Check times below.


Check out my Q and A with Larissa

Gruesome Playground Injuries

Written by Rajiv Joseph

Directed by Larissa Kokernot

Cast Jules Willcox, Brad Fleischer


Details, Runs- 5pm Saturdays, 7pm Sundays, and 8pm Mondays (no performance on Monday, June 23rd) through July 14, 2014. ROGUE MACHINE is located at 5041 W. Pico Blvd., LA, CA 90019. Reservations can be made at www.roguemachinetheatre.com or more information at 855-585-5185.



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