Theater on the Edge
By Johnna Adams
Directed by Pam Harbaugh
With Krystal Glover and Natalie Bulajic
All this set needed was the smell of chalk dust and stale urine to bring me back to 5th grade. The ominous buzz of florescent lighting fills the air and the sounds of education flow subliminally under the door. There’s been and “incident” in this Chicago 5th grade: a young man, Gideon, was suspended, and then went home and shot himself in shame. His mother Corryn (Bulajic) goes to the school for a meeting with his teacher Heather (Glover), the principal, and a stack of lawyers. Only the teacher arrives, and we plunge into the mechanics of 5th grade power struggles, children’s revenge fantasies and the meaning of literature in a post millennial society. And what was this evil deed that drove the boy over the edge? He wrote a lurid fantasy about killing and raping his teachers in a student led revolution. We’ve all thought things like this at one time or another, he just put it down, passed it around, and paid the price. When mom reads it, she finds it brilliant and compares it to medieval Celtic poetry. Oooo-kay.
Under this brutal story is a look at the guts of education; and I’m impressed any of us come out of the system capable of tying our shoelaces. The school is more interested in covering its butt, Heather is sincere enough but ultimate unconcerned and Corryn wants some sort of acknowledgement that the school over-reacted, and she finds a nasty way to do so. A clock runs on stage the program defines this story as occurring between 2:45 Pm and 4:15 pm, and the story hits those times. There is no joy on this stage, there is no release from the tension. But it will take you to several places in your mind you’d just as soon never visit.