‘Gidion’s Knot’ opts for trendy not truth
By HEDY WEISS Theater Critic January 29, 2014 4:52PM
Amy J. Carle (left) and Laura Hooper star in "Gidion's Knot" at Profiles Theatre. | PHOTO BY MICHAEL BROSILOW
When: Through March 9
Where: Profiles Theatre,
4147 N. Broadway
Tickets : $35-$40
Info: (773) 549-1815;
Run time: 90 minutes,
Updated: January 30, 2014 9:22AM
Hot topics do not necessarily make for good plays. Exhibit A: Johnna Adams’ “Gidion’s Knot,” a 90-minute drama that is offensive on so many levels it is difficult to know where to begin when enumerating them. The fact that the play has been picked up by more than a dozen regional theaters this season is irrelevant; it signifies only that this is a trendy work, not a truthful one.
One point should be made clear at the start, however: The fault here does not lie with the Profiles Theatre production, in which two strong actresses, directed by Joe Jahraus, try with all their might to breathe believability into the play’s dangerously twisted notions and heavy-handed construction.
The backdrop for the play is a public school classroom in suburban Lake Forest. Sitting nervously at her desk, surrounded by brightly colored walls covered with pictures and compositions devoted to the theme of mythology, is Heather (Laura Hooper), a fifth grade teacher who, we will learn, has an MBA and a previous career in advertising.
Arriving for a “belated” parent-teacher conference is Corryn (Amy J. Carle), the haughty single mother and Northwestern University literature professor whose son, Gidion, was a student in Heather’s class. A week earlier, Heather had suspended the boy from school. He then proceeded to head home, tell his mother the news and shoot himself.
Forget the fact that the suspension, as well as this conversation, would never have unfolded as Adams leads us to believe they did. More crucially, continue on to listen to the absolutely repellant cant spewed by the aggrieved and grieving mother who clearly was not paying attention to her 10-year-old son’s emotional life.
And be advised: The question here is not really about whether Gidion was being bullied, or, on the other hand, was involved in his own very troubling brand of behavior. As it happens, the impetus for Gidion’s suspension was what was found in his notebook. The boy had penned a long, grotesquely gory saga of disembowelment and other horrors staged as an act of revenge against teachers.
The mother’s response? My kid was a poetic genius, on the level of the finest minds of ancient Greece and Rome, and you, his teacher, were ill-equipped to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of his magisterial mind. What’s more, such mediocrity is emblematic of all our political and social ills and an offense to our civil rights.
Never mind that Heather’s responsibility was to the safety of her entire class and school. I truly kept wishing she would shout: Remember the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Conn. Instead, the play devolves into a weeper about a sick cat that probably needs to be put to sleep. And that, I must tell you, was the very last meow.