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Theater Review: Dramatic Knockdowndragout success with 'Gidion’s Knot'

Johnna Adams is a playwright willing to go out on a limb in “Gidion’s Knot.”  This edginess creates a challenge for actors as well as for the audience. 

It is disturbing and also unfortunately real -- striking a discordant chord within current societal attitudes.  The action takes place in a fifth-grade classroom. Corryn Fell has an appointment with her son’s teacher, Miss Clark. Her son, Gidion, has been suspended from school for a number of days; the action which instigates the appointment.  

Apparently, Miss Clark does not expect her to attend the meeting after all. The encounter is awkward, and the mother’s attitude is abrasive as the teacher is evasive. Ultimately, as Gideon’s story is revealed, the two women must face and try to unravel the threads of a young life ravaged by a climate of bullying.

Fifth grade is a time when many children are beginning to discover their sexual identity, although there are many variances in the onset of puberty. Many are misunderstood and many are terribly confused about who they are. There are limits to the extent a parent or teacher can intervene and protect them because this is also a time when children are very secretive. With increasing electronic avenues, children are bombarded with messages that are designed to entrap their imagination. 

“Gidion’s Knot” is 90 minutes, and the two cast members captivate the audience, stripping away their detachment. J. Christine Lanning as mother Corryn Fell and Emily Etherton as teacher Heather Clark discover the essence of this tragedy as they explore the circumstances Gidion faced. While the transgression of Gidion is revealed, the questions raised are more profound than ever. These two actresses have an excellent command of the characters and a beautiful understanding of grief. Lanning is bitter, angry and seeks answers; Clark is wary, secretive and uncooperative. Both of them are innocent — Lanning is an intellectual and busy single mother, but she takes time with her son, and Clark is a dedicated teacher in spite of disappointments in life. Both feel guilty, and they carry a burden that will never abate with time. Gidion pays the price.

The space is intimate, and audience members are drawn in to the action. The subject is uncomfortable, a discomfort that is necessary for people to experience. Lance Garrett’s inspired direction of these two women creates an event that Knockdowndragout Productions should be extremely proud of presenting.

Unfortunately, this play has already finished the run. With all the wonderful theatre in this town, it is hard for the critics to view everything in a timely fashion. As a result, “Gidion’s Knot” was attended by this critic on closing night rather than opening night.

This is a show that might not draw a large audience for every performance, but it is an important show for adults to see. They need a longer schedule. That is the only criticism that can be made. We don’t want more — we need more. Knockdowndragout Productions should be commended for tackling such a difficult subject with the intensity that only truly intelligent actors bring. Lance Garrett directs the two women skillfully, and they become their characters. The audience becomes these characters along with them, and that is an experience this community needs to have again.  Perhaps they will play it again.

Knockdowndragout Productions is planning more theatrical presentations beginning in June. Look for them — whatever they do, it will be edgy, it will be important. Tragedy will be tragic, and comedy will be hysterically funny with this production company. “Gidion’s Knot” is tragic. “Gidion’s Knot” is essential.  “Gidion’s Knot” is too well done and important to be overlooked by this community.

 For information about future productions, visit or call 405-779-7955.


Elizabeth Hurd

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