At Kitchen Dog, Gidion's Knot Feels Like Two Hours of Study Hall

Leah Spillman and Jenni Kirk star in the two-character drama Gidion’s Knot.
Leah Spillman and Jenni Kirk star in the two-character drama Gidion’s Knot.
Karen Almond

It was a mistake to put a clock on the wall of the set for Gidion's Knot, the two-character Johnna Adams one-act now running at Kitchen Dog Theater. Set in a schoolroom, the play unfolds in real time, though you'd swear it warps and slows down somewhere in the middle.

Alone at her desk, teacher Heather (Leah Spillman) sips tea and grades papers. In barges Corryn (Jenni Kirk), mother of a fifth-grader. She claims to have a parent-teacher appointment.

We keep checking the time as this tedious play reveals that Corryn's son has committed suicide. She blames it on Heather, who'd suspended the child after reading a fantasy story he'd written depicting gory violence against her and some classmates. She took it as a threat. Literature prof Corryn forces Heather to read the story aloud. She does, grimacing as she enunciates each cartoonish act of grisly torture and murder.

In stilted, terse spurts of words, the women bicker and lecture each other. The playwright keeps presenting new soapboxes for them to stand on as they issue little orations about school violence, single parenthood, gay acceptance, gender identity, bullying and other topics covered on afternoon talk shows. Tick, tick, tick goes that clock as tired teacher and tiger mother go at it for 80 excruciating minutes.

Directed by Tina Parker, Gidion's Knot is a grind. Spillman and Kirk start out tense and angry and stay that way right up to the moment the bell finally rings for recess and we can all go home.

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