Unraveling Gidion’s Knot at 59E59

Gidion's knowGidion’s Knot could be considered a mystery. It is a Gordian knot, which we learn early in the play, is a complicated problem that cannot be solved conventionally. The story unravels slowly as details come to light. Gidion is a fifth grader who has been suspended. His mother Corryn goes to school for a previously scheduled parent-teacher conference with Gidion’s teacher, Heather Clark. The teacher is stunned (and that’s putting it mildly) that she is there. What ensues over the next 85 minutes is a verbal and psychological battle between the two women. Gidion’s mother tries to learn the truth behind the suspension while the teacher hides behind school policy and tries to withhold information. To say more would give too much away.

The play just opened a few days ago and I think the director, Austin Pendleton, needs to tweak some things. The pacing could be a bit faster. Some of the pauses, though trying to build suspense, went on too long and made the play drag. Karen Leiner as Gidion’s mother was spot on. But, Dara O’Brien as Gidion’s teacher was less convincing. She played the role like a “deer caught in the headlights” rather than a woman with multiple degrees embarking on a second career.

The play deals with creative freedom and the lengths we must go to keep our children safe. But Johnna Adams, the playwright, also raises the issues of single parenting, childhood sexuality, prejudice, the problems that come with social media and school policies. It is too much to tackle in such a short time. I’m not sure if it is intentional but not much is solved at the end of the play. We do learn why Gidion was suspended but in the process all the details that surface only lead to more unanswered questions.

The play is as thought-provoking as it is disturbing. That may make for interesting discussion, but it does not make for a great play. Although the play wasn’t great, it is certainly worth the ticket price of $18.

Gidion’s Knot was held in the small black box theater at 59E59. It’s a small and intimate setting where you really connect with the actors.

The theater offers an annual membership and discounted tickets for members. The price of this play was $18 ($12.60/members).


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