A parent-teacher conference is a common occurrence in the typical school, a chance for a teacher to meet the parent or parents of a pupil and discuss any possible issues.
But in "Gidion's Knot" at none too fragile theater in Akron, this routine meeting takes a stark twist, in a scheduled meeting between mother Corryn (played by Jen Klika) and teacher Heather (played by Alanna Romansky). Heather had initially requested a conference after sending Corryn's fifth-grade son Gidion home with a notice that he had been suspended from school for five days. However, Heather is shocked when Corryn actually shows up because Gidion had committed suicide. Their discussion, needless to say, ranges from strained to heated, with occasional moments of (appropriately) awkward humor.
Romansky and Klika do a phenomenal job bringing all the nuances of their characters to the stage. Klika's Corryn is trying to be rational while seeking answers in an indescribably difficult situation. She tries to put Heather at ease at times, but occasionally needles the relatively new educator, particularly with Heather's change of career. Romansky's Heather, who has been teaching for two years and is going through her own grief process, is in a difficult spot to say the least, trying to provide answers to a murky situation. The ending leaves the members of the audience to draw his or her own conclusions. Was Gidion bullied or a bully? Did the school try to tamp down on the right to free speech or was it acting on a legitimate concern?
"It's the most challenging and most rewarding show I've ever done," Klika said. "It was great to work with Alanna again, this time on the stage. Her intensity and her honesty allowed me to be very vulnerable in the process, and I don't think I could do the character without feeling vulnerable."
Ticket and show information
"Gidion's Knot" runs through April 19. The shows start at 8 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased through www.nonetoofragile.com at $20, or are $20, or pay as you can, cash only, at the door. The theater is at 1835 Merriman Road, within Pub Bricco, in Akron. Complimentary valet parking is available on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Next on stage
None too fragile will next bring the world premiere of "Possum Dreams" by Ed Falco June 13 through 28.