Eclectic Full Contact Theatre creates an intensely dramatic situation in their production of GIDION’S KNOT. Although the story is easily summed up, the conflicts are numerous and compelling. This is not the type of show you will see and forget about. This is the type of show you will see and continue thinking about and talking about.
A Story Told Through Conversation
The play focuses on a parent/teacher conference between a young teacher and the mother of one of her students, the titular Gidion. The circumstances of the conference are highly unusual and reveal the situation through difficult and uncomfortable conversation between the two women. Blame is shifted back and forth, different points of view are given, anger turns to sympathy and neither participant really knows what to do next.
The title is a reference to the story of the Gordian Knot, which is used to reference a complex or unsolvable problem. The playwright, Johnna Adams, has created an intense world and refuses to let the audience relax. The play seems, at first, to be a ‘whose side are you on?’ kind of situation. However, as it progresses, the audience realizes there truly may be no “right” side. There may be no solution.
Eclectic Full Contact Focuses on Acting and Story
Since this play only contains two characters, the burden of it working is placed in the hands of the two actors. Michelle Annette’s portrayal of Heather, the teacher, begins with a beautiful fragility, later revealing through the journey an uncommon inner strength. Julie Partyka attacks the character of Corryn, Gidion’s mother, with bold bravery. Her embodiment of a mother’s grief while remaining strong in the face of conflict is enlightening.
When these two women interact, it is with quiet and subtle uncertainty. When either is left on their own, we see the raw emotion within. In both cases, the result is entertaining and thought-provoking.
The entire play takes place in a fifth grade classroom. The simple set, designed by Josh Leeper, is realistic and makes memories of school come flooding back. The action never moves from this room and the tension never lightens. The questions of what happened to Gidion are, of course, revealed throughout this meticulously written play. The question of what can anyone do about it and why exactly it happened, however, is left open and ready for the lively discussion and debates you are likely to have on your way home from this compelling drama.
Photos by Katie Hunter
Top Pick For: Lovers of Quiet Compelling Drama
Not recommended for: Action Seekers
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
June 2 - July 2, 2017
2936 N. Southport, Chicago
Online at www.eclectic-theatre.com
Note: an excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.