Perception and misunderstanding pit an angry, hostile parent against a naive educator in a dramatic piece, “Gidion’s Knot” at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri as one of the most dramatic pieces to emerge from the 2014 KC Fringe Festival remounts the tense drama.
Warren Deckert selected the piece as his entry into the 2014 KC Fringe Festival to make its K.C. premiere. Following the successful Fringe run, Deckert chose to remount the play in the same location with the same cast, but he made some directorial alterations that increase the intensity of the piece he said.
“Over the course of a parent/teacher conference, a grieving mother and an emotionally overwhelmed primary school teacher have a conversation about the tragic suicide of the mother’s son, Gidion. As his story is slowly revealed the women attempt to discover the truth behind Gidion’s action. ‘Gidion’s Knot’ is an intense show with content that is dark and disturbing. Recommended for adult audiences,” according to the KC Fringe program.
Audiences need to strap on their seatbelts and get ready for a hostile confrontation between a teacher and a grieving parent. Each comes away with a deeper understanding of the child, recently suspended from school who commits suicide. Answers and more questions come into view as the reluctant teacher faces her accuser. The tense price brings into play social media, school violence, and bullying.
In the piece, a creative misfit, Gidion wrote two pieces that pushed beyond the limits of what other students create. His first piece, about his “grandfather’s corpse” decaying in his grave sent chills and a warning sign to his teacher. She rewarded his writing with at ‘A+’ but the subject matter was beyond what she considered normal. A second piece resulted in Gidion’s suspension from school and eventual suicide. Seems the young man wrote a piece where teachers and administrators were brutally raped, murdered, disemboweled, dismembered, bodies hung as trophies, eyes gouged out, and body organs used to weave.
While the teacher found this to be offensive, disturbing, and inappropriate, the mother sees it as artistic expression of the highest degree. The teacher perceived the second paper to be a threat. It discussed raping, killing, and gouging her eyes out–not a way to win a teacher’s favor. To the mother, the story was a masterpiece of her son’s imagination and creative ability. Probably the most disturbing lies in the fact that a 10-year old mind created this piece.
Expect fireworks as the two actresses shift back and forth from aggressor to defendant and back again several times. Vanessa Harper and Ellen DeShon deliver spell-binding performances. The direction of Deckert keeps the piece tight and fast-paced. The drama is phenomenal and shocking. The subject matter is disturbing. The perspectives of each woman is understandable which makes the piece so emotionally enticing to experience. DeShon is mean, angry, grieving while she searches for answers, blaming the teacher for her son’s death. Harper stands firm and professional as her character is verbally shredded by DeShon’s character. Still, Harper holds her own in a quiet show of strength as she tries to help the grieving mother understand that the deceased student’s unnerving compositions were beyond the norm. Both actresses deliver strong characters in a grudge match where a win-win situation remains impossible.
The show comes with the highest recommendations and should attract a large audience. It is worth of production by bigger venues. The lighting adds drama to a super-dramatic piece and the tension developed by the two actresses hits the audience in the face in the first five minutes–and only continues to create more tension. Dramatic pauses and facial expressions show what each character endures in the 90-minute one-act play.
“Gidion’s Knot” was written by Johnna Adams and directed by Warren Deckert. Assisting Deckert to bring the remount to life were Emily Sukolics and Amber Benham.
Only two more chances remain to see “Gidion’s Knot.” The show does not contain a lot of strong language, but the content is not suitable for younger audiences. High school and older would understand the piece. The show continues at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online at the Just Off Broadway website.