Because I’ve been blogging so much about food lately, I haven’t been sharing all the wonderful theater experiences as I should. But I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage as many people as I could to see this amazing play at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley.
Everything about Gidion’s Knot is well done. Before the play even officially begins, actress Stacy Ross is in character as a teacher on stage, grading papers at her desk in a convincing fifth-grade classroom. The set is decked out with the typical primary-colored, cheery pre-fab elementary-school posters under harsh institutional fluorescents, which is the perfect setting for shining light on an extremely dark topic and sets the right tone for what must be the most uncomfortable parent-teacher conference ever. My compliments to set designer Nina Ball and lighting designer, Michael Palumbo.
I don’t want to give away important plot twists because part of the beauty of the play is the unveiling of each element, but it is a story that delves into many issues, none of which are easy or clear cut. An abrasive, wounded, misguided mother, played by Jamie Jones, descends on the teacher who does her best to consider the mother’s situation before reacting.
Johnna Adam’s script is a finely cut jigsaw puzzle whose pieces interlock before the audience to reveal a troubled student who never appears on stage. Both the mother and teacher have pieces of that puzzle. But even when the audience has the insight of both women, the picture isn’t complete, which illustrates how deeply complicated an eleven-year old can be.
Also noticeably absent is the principal, who is supposedly on her way. Representing an institutional lack of support, this Godot fails not only the teacher and the parent but presumably the boy as well.
Stacy Ross is one of my favorite Bay Area actors, and this role took advantage of her great talent. (Another actress will take over that role starting March 4, and I’m sure she’s good, but to be on the safe side, I would get tickets now.) Jamie Jones did such a good job of being that multi-faceted pain-in-the-ass parent that I actively disliked her character while also feeling great sympathy.
It’s not a rollicking good time, but it’s a moving drama that poses important questions that will haunt you long after you leave the theater.
For tickets, go to https://tickets.auroratheatre.org/TheatreManager/1/login&event=0