Profiles Theatre Alley Stage. By Johnna Adams. Dir. Joe Jahraus. With Amy J. Carle, Laura Hooper. 1hr 15mins; no intermission.
Theater review by Kris Vire
"This doesn't have to be adversarial," grieving mother Corryn (Amy J. Carle) says to her son Gidion's fifth-grade teacher, Heather (Laura Hooper), early in Johnna Adams's intense one-act. But Corryn's demeanor belies her statement. She's shown up in Heather's classroom on a Monday afternoon for a scheduled parent-teacher conference about Gidion's suspension on Friday—despite the fact that 11-year-old Gidion killed himself after coming home from school. And now his mother is looking for somewhere to point her rage.
Adams, an alumna of the Theatre School at DePaul, packs a lot into her 75-minute piece beyond the central mystery of what, specifically, happened to Gidion. As the two women circle each other, ostensibly waiting for the school's principal to join them, Adams touches on divergent ideas of childhood development and educational policy: Are kids fragile creatures whose innocence must be preserved, or is our overprotective idealism stifling to creativity and natural maturation? They're valid questions, and in Carle and Hooper's pair of tough, vivid performances, Gidion's Knot also becomes an arresting picture of the limits of our ability to fully know even those closest to us.
And yet there's something artificial and over-intellectual about the whole enterprise; even before Corryn starts raving about creative repression and the trade-off between liberty and security, there's a nagging feeling that this entire conversation would never happen, that both characters' motivations are specious. For all its studied frayedness, Gidion's Knot somehow still seems to tie up too neatly.