With a name like “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” there’s no way to avoid a little bloodshed.
In the dark comedy from Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, the injuries – both physical and psychological – are a way of chronicling a 30-year relationship between its characters. They use their scars like others use the night sky, to chart the passing of time and their place in the universe.
The two-person play opens March 6 at downtown Modesto’s Center Stage Conservatory and runs through March 22.
Regional actors and Center Stage veterans Traci Sprague and Joe Conn play the piece’s two injury-prone protagonists, Kayleen and Doug. They meet at age 8 in the school nurse’s office. He is a daredevil, she is a bit of a masochist. Still, their friendship, and love, grow with each bump and bruise.
This is second time Sprague and Conn have shared the stage – the first was in Stage 3 Theatre Company’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 2013. Besides co-starring in “Injuries,” the duo is co-directing the production for Center Stage.
“I always feel like the luckiest person when I get to work with Joe,” said Sprague, who also serves as Center Stage artistic director, in a release about the show.
“It’s incredibly freeing to get to work with someone who you feel safe with and trust fully. Working with Joe means not having to shy away from dangerous and risky stuff, that is oftentimes painful.”
Joseph’s other works include the “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” “Huck and Holden” and “All This Intimacy.” “Injuries” debuted in 2009 and this will be its first regional production.
Sprague said for all the piece’s obvious pain, the story’s true message is one of hope.
“Humans have this strange ability to heal each other if we let them, and we can heal ourselves for that matter, but we shouldn’t wait until it’s too late,” she said.