Review: “Gidion’s Knot”
While classic tragedies draw on universal feelings to tug at our heartstrings, the most intellectually and emotionally affective plays are those that tap into the cultural anxieties of an era.
Johnna Adams’ captivating drama, “Gidion’s Knot,” evokes the emotional catharsis of Greek tragedy: drawing the audience (and actors) into experiences of both pity and terror. But it does so against a contemporary backdrop of school bullying, making it all the more powerful.
Produced by Capital T Theater, the show opened as part of Frontera Festival and will have an extended run at Salvage Vanguard Theater through Feb. 8. It’s a moving and thought-provoking piece, raising issues that spark conversation without allowing for immediate judgment.
Adams’ gorgeous script offers a story that gracefully unfolds through thick layers of tension. Something has happened in a fifth grade classroom, and a parent-teacher conference has been called. We watch as the confrontation between Heather the teacher (Rebecca Robinson) and Corryn the parent (Emily Erington) doles out information a tidbit at a time.
“Gidion’s Knot” is a potent play, and this production skillfully handles the responsibility.
As the concerned single-mother, Erington commands the room throughout, creating peaks and valleys in the tension between the two women, and giving us a heartrending performance as she tries to uncover the truth about what has happened to her son.
Robinson cedes and retakes her ground adeptly, trying to navigate the uncomfortable conversation through a maze of bureaucratic expectations. While her character may not be very likable, our sympathy for her increases as we learn more about events at the school.
Directed by Lily Wolff, the show’s pacing is gorgeous, and the director proves unafraid of silences – a profound tool for building and sustaining pressure on stage. And although a flourish of physicality in the final moments of the play proves unnecessarily melodramatic, Wolff’s direction keeps us on the edge of our seats.
“Gidion’s Knot” is a fine piece of contemporary drama, raising questions about responsibility, education, and art that aren’t easily answered.
“Gidion’s Knot” continues through Feb. 8. www.capitalt.org