Bullying in school — along with its psychological consequences — is a big topic these days, and Pillsbury Theatre’s latest production tackles it head on.
“Gidion’s Knot” by Johnna Adams, takes place during a 90-minute parent/teacher conference between mother Corryn Fell (played by Aditi Kapil) and fifth grade teacher Ms. Clark (played by Laura Esping). Reviewers found the production brave, noble, and occasionally frustrating.
It’s a brave, disturbing but accessible piece of theater that offers contemporary resonances and eschews easy answers. …”Gidion’s Knot” allows for complexity without wallowing in it, and creates a world in which people with deep and irreconcilable differences force themselves to have an honest, respectful and relatively civil dialogue.
…Director Noel Raymond’s production is a solid one. She builds the action gradually in flawless blocking and in the gradual ratcheting up of the actors’ lines… Actors Kapil and Esping deliver performances that suggest two ill-fitting dance partners wholly reliant on each other… By the end of the evening, the two actors achieve a noble thing onstage. Their separate actions meld into one, with performances that support each other. But instead of building towering foundations, they show us their wounded characters, leaning into each other like broken pillars.
Both Corryn and Ms. Clark have been rocked by a devastating event, so the emotions are raw and close to the surface. But while Corryn conveys plenty of this, Ms. Clark plays it closer to the vest. There are moments screaming for her side of the story — a perspective that just doesn’t come. That doesn’t mean the two performers don’t make the best of what they have here. The little pauses that Esping builds into her lines, the tough posture of Kapil, and a myriad of other little touches push the performances far beyond what is scripted.
“Gidion’s Knot” runs through March 23 at Pillsbury House. Have you seen the show? What did you think?