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Shows Worth Seeing:

Gidion's Knot
By Johnna Adams
59E59 Theatre
59 E. 59th St.


This tense and thoughtful two-hander, crisply directed by Austin Pendleton, marks the professional New York arrival of an exciting new playwriting voice. Gidion’s Knot has a wonderfully uncomfortable premise: a mother shows up for a pre-scheduled conference with her son’s 5th-grade teacher, who isn’t expecting her because, as we soon learn, the child killed himself three days earlier. The mother is looking for answers, and various clues have led her to this classroom, where she provokes a conversation that is by turns evasive and blunt, intimate and distant, frustrating and incrementally revealing. The women circle one another like wary animals, unsure how to occupy the same space, let alone converse meaningfully—two fundamentally, even fatefully different people who have been wounded by the boy’s death in opposed ways that they really need to talk out. For a time the play seems headed toward predictable topical territory, moralizing about violent language and imagery, censorship, and good and bad teaching and motherhood. Thankfully, this smart young playwright turns out to be after bigger game, meditating in the end on what anyone, regardless of politics, can reasonably expect of life and art. With the specter of the boy hovering, topicality is forgotten in the face of larger questions about what it means to choose and pursue any topic, or course of life.



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