Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Also see Bill's review of L'Italiana in Algeri
Gidion's Knot is ostensibly about a parent teacher conference, but in 75 brief minutes sheds light on the role of schools vs. the role of parents and how schools function within our society. Thorny issues are addressed, and never once does the brilliant playwright Johanna Adams offer simple, easy answers. The plot revolves around a child who was suspended for writing a very provocative story, then went home and committed suicide. In the course of the play we learn that there was some negative interaction with another child, but it is unclear who was the bully and who was bullied. This is a fascinating play and sent me off to learn more about Ms. Adams and her body of work. Several of her plays sound equally as intriguing and I hope to have the chance to see some of them.
Florida Studio Theatre has brought in two of our area's finest actresses, Kate Hampton as mother Corryn Fell and Katherine Michelle Tanner as teacher Heather Clark. These two women have worked with each other in the past, most recently at this same theater in Stalking the Bogeyman in supporting parts. The built-in chemistry is evident. Both have been cast according to their stage personas, Ms. Hampton in the harsher more brittle part of the professor mother and Ms. Tanner as the softer fifth grade teacher, deeply in over her head. Because I have seen both of these actresses in different roles and am so familiar with their individual strengths, these characters become defined a bit by this knowledge. Both actresses do a fine job, but I also am ready to see this play all over again with actresses I do not know as well, and I would almost expect to experience totally different people in the same story. These roles and this play are so rich that it would be a terrific experience to see it more than once.
Director Jason Cannon brings an exciting production to the Stage III series. Scenic design by Bruce Price, costume design by Adrienne Webber and lighting design by Chris Baldwin all contribute to the overall excellence. Next up in the Stage III series is Grounded by George Brand, beginning March 22. This series is proving to be so successful that a fourth production, The Exonerated, has been added in April. There is no doubt in my mind that Florida Studio Theatre is onto something, reviving this series.
Florida Studio Theatre presents Gidion's Knot through March 5, 2017, at the Gompertz Theatre 1241 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota. For tickets and performance information, please call the box office at 941-366-9000 or visit www.floridastudiotheatre.org
Cast: Corryn Fell: Kate Hampton*
Director: Jason Cannon