“Gidion’s Knot” presented by Seattle Public Theater

Gidion, a very bright elementary school student, was, as bright kids sometimes are, out of step with others. His somewhat new-to-the-profession teacher doesn’t really have a handle on him and when he turns in a writing assignment which is violent, filled with scenes of torture, rape, and murder and passes it around to the other students, the teacher suspends him. Gidion kills himself.


(L to R) Rebecca Olson (as Heather) and Heather Hawkins (as Corryn). Photo by Paul Bestock

Whew! Who would want to see this? Well, probably you do. Director Shana Bestock has given us a taut play that raises significant questions; and the acting and set couldn’t be better.

The entire one-act play is set in Gidion’s classroom. The students are gone, the teacher is finishing up her after-school preparations and planning when in walks Gideon’s mother. At that point the audience knows nothing, and puzzles over the teacher’s discomfort, her surprise at seeing the mother. Yes, she had had an appointment with her, but she never expected her to come today, maybe they should seek another time.

Rebecca Olson as the teacher is mild, controlled, and oh so anxious to get the mother out of there. Heather Hawkins as the mother is a force! She too is initially controlled, but she wants a dialog, and she won’t leave until she gets it. The two women play off each other like dancers swooping and pirouetting, or perhaps more like swordsmen thrusting, parrying, passing, and attacking. Turns out Mama is a professor of literature, well versed in Greek mythology. She’s introduced it to her son, a boy who has been bullied by classmates.

What right had the teacher to punish Gidion for his creative writing? Don’t educators have a responsibility to identify kids who think outside the box? And how could she have suspended this somewhat fragile kid? Did she choose to ignore the bullying students who are reflected in Gidion’s story? What actions could the mother have taken to help Gidion learn the difference between private and public acceptability? What role has she is this tragedy?

“Gidion’s Knot” like the ancient Gordian Knot presents an unimaginable problem. Here two astoundingly good actors explore it with passion.

Through April 20, by Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse Theatre on Green Lake, 7312 West Green Lake Dr. N, Seattle, (206 524-1300 or www.seattlepublictheater.org)

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