“Gidion’s Knot” by Johnna Adams, presented by Durham’s Bartlett Theater
An angry single parent questions her son’s suspension by his fifth-grade teacher, which leads to a shattering event afterward. His teacher is reluctant to talk about the specifics but his mother persists, suspecting irresponsibility by the school in handling the offending incident.
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Lakeisha Coffey plays the mother like a lioness stalking her prey with cunning focus. Shannon Malone’s teacher is a bundle of apprehensions and evasions, nervously conveying her own doubts. Both impress with their range of emotions and subtle body language.
Bryan Conger keeps the tension tightly wired as the twists and turns pile up. In this 90-minute one-act play, which takes place in continuous real time, he keep the action interesting by using every corner of the classroom space.
Technical aspects: A+
Tab May’s colorful, inviting setting gets warm ambiance from Anthony Cacchione’s lighting, enhanced by Jonathan Fredette’s school hallway soundscape.
The playwright cleverly spreads out the gripping suspense but takes on too many topics in a short period, from educational conformity vs. individuality to pre-teen emotional development and abusive bullying.
Recommended – for the riveting acting from two of the area’s finest performers.
Roy Dicks: firstname.lastname@example.org
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What: “Gidion’s Knot” by Johnna Adams, presented by Durham’s Bartlett Theater
Where: Staged at the Durham Arts Council, 120 Morris St., Durham
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 and March 2-3; 3 p.m. Feb. 25 and March 4.
Tickets: $15-$25. 919-808-2203 or BartlettTheater.org.
Note: Bartlett Theater suggests the production is best for those ages 15 and over due to mature themes and graphic descriptions of violence.