Dire Swing: Kayleen and Doug find warmth between nasty injuries.

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We always hurt the ones we love. Unless we’re carrying around something more than the baseline quotient of 21st-century crazy, in which case we hurt ourselves to summon the intermittent attentions of the ones we love. That’s the sad condition in which the two perpetual victims of Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries find themselves, or search for themselves. Joseph’s unsentimental, non-linear anti-romance checks in with Kayleen (Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey) and Doug (Tim Getman) at five-year intervals between the ages of eight and 38, each encounter precipitated by some calamity, usually bodily. If it feels like a bit of a cheat that these friends connect only on the occasion of each other’s misfortunes, Getman and Fernandez-Coffey deflect that objection with the conviction of their performances. Getman never lets his oozing ensemble of bandages and slasher-film makeup do the work for him, and Fernandez-Coffey subverts her considerable beauty to register as even less emotionally autarkic than he. Oh, and did I mention it’s funny? Misha Kachman’s in-the-round hockey-rink set—a wry metaphor that feels right even before its literal relevance becomes known to us—includes a suspended scoreboard displaying the characters’ ages and the misadventure that precipitates each encounter. Kayleen and Doug meet as children in the school infirmary, on a day when Doug’s flayed his face open by riding his bike off the roof and Kayleen can’t stop throwing up. We’ll never be privy to more than flashes of their biographies: Kayleen’s got cruel parents and will do time in a psychiatric hospital; Doug’ll have a near-miss with marriage. It’s these gaps in their stories, even more than their physical brushes with mortality, that make us feel life’s brevity and fragility as these two kindred sickos orbit each other, at least one of them too frightened or too numb to attempt or permit a landing. Speaking of gaps: One of the great pleasures of John Vreeke’s production is the scene-transitions, wherein the actors revel in the physical agility denied their characters, gliding and stomping through costume and set changes while nicely curated if occasionally on-the-nose indie barn-burners, raps, and ballads blare. (The performers also convincingly conjure the physicality of children versus adolescents versus very tired adults.) These segues linger long enough to invite suspicion Vreeke is leaning too heavily on the increasingly dour songs to dial up an emotional palette, but nothing in the ensuing scenes ever feels unearned. It would be intriguing to see Joseph continue his examination into his characters’ geriatric years—while these two may arguably endure a lifetime of pain in the three decades we’re shown, and there is an ending of sorts, does Joseph believe life ends at forty? Or that only bitterness replaces the optimism of youth? Still, there’s something paradoxically life-affirming about the sensitivity with which playwright and players perform this haunting ode to self-destruction.