The room is orange, red and green with slogans all over—“Make good choices!” on the door, “A World of Friendship,” “Reach 4 the Sky” and “Writing Is Fun” on the walls. Small pictures are tacked on the board to the right, each labeled with an artist’s name. Picasso’s name is misspelled but what can you expect from a teacher who can’t tell “4” from “for”? She bustles around the room putting things away, styled straight from the 1950s like a little Betty Crocker, sniffling delicately as she goes, until a sharp rapping at the door interrupts her housekeeping. It’s Corryn (Julie Partyka). Miss Clark—Heather (Michelle Annette)—is sure she is mistaken. She tells Corryn so, that it’s impossible they have a meeting today, now, and tries to send her away. But Heather is wrong. Corryn does have an appointment for a parent-teacher conference; Heather just didn’t think she would keep it because the child in question is dead.
Johnna Adams’ “Gidion’s Knot” pits a mother seeking answers for her son’s suicide against a teacher determined, at all costs, to keep anyone from knowing things she thinks they can’t handle—likely because she herself can’t. “You want children to be something they’re not,” sneers Corryn. “Innocent. That is some ridiculous Victorian-era idea that we’ve inherited about childhood… Childhood is not a suspended state of innocence—it is the condition of rapidly losing innocence.” She is incandescent with wrath, wielding her rage like Grendel’s mother, screeching her desire to look the world in the eye and see it for the horror that it is. Heather, combed and scared, is no match for her, using words as they were never meant to be used, merely to paper over unsightly reality and fill the time before the authorities take control of the situation.
This is blood sport for anyone who loves to see the square get bent, funny to cover up the sadness of losing a child before you got to know him well, incisive and furious with language. (Irene Hsiao)
Eclectic Full Contact Theatre at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 North Southport, eclectic-theatre.com, $25-$30. Through July 2.