This isn't a play about a school shooting, but there certainly is some psychological carnage left in the wake of this flawed but fascinating piece by Johnna Adams. And None Too Fragile's two-person cast, Alanna Romansky and Jen Klika, negotiate many twists and turns with emotional clarity. Set in an empty fifth-grade classroom, teacher Heather is surprised by a visit from the mother of one of her students. Turns out Corryn's son Gidion was suspended and mom wants to find out why. This leads both parent and teacher through a maze of suppositions and accusations. Normal 11-year-old moments of angst are played off against much deeper and more disturbing issues, especially when Heather is forced to read a gruesome story Gidion wrote that led to his suspension. Corryn's unexpected reaction to that story, and the discussion it ignites, sends the two women into reflections on art, education and morality that are truly intriguing. Sure, Adams' script veers off into a little too much didacticism. And a faint subplot about Heather's ill cat, thrown in as a counterpoint to the other events, is just ridiculous. But in the main, this is a play about real ideas. In less than 80 minutes, Gidion's Knot provides a snarl of feelings generated by the animal protectiveness of parents and the subversive yet unavoidable influence institutions have on our lives. In short, it leaves you plenty to talk about for the rest of the evening. (Christine Howey) Through April 19 at None Too Fragile Theater, 1835 Merriman Rd., Akron, 330-671-4563, nonetoofragile.com.
As You Like It
This Great Lakes Theater production of As You Like It, directed with wit and snap by Edward Morgan, is a simply glorious romp that lands in C-town at the perfect moment. You needn't wait until May 2 for the world's largest outdoor chandelier to light up the street: This play will dazzle Playhouse Square for the next two weeks. This version features a brilliant updating by Morgan, setting the play in New England during the Scott Joplin era. This brings in some tunes of the time ("I Don't Care") as well as a barbershop quartet at the top of Act 2. Betsy Mugavero as a feisty Rosalind begins as a Gibson Girl and then evolves into a suffragette. Trying to avoid the heavy hand of Duke Frederick, the threatened Rosalind and her gal pal Celia (Christine Weber) dash off to the Arden Forest where Roz, disguised as the courtly dude Ganymede, sort of/kind of seduces her heartthrob Orlando (Torsten Johnson).
They are accompanied into the safe embrace of the forest by Touchstone, a clown whose verbal and physical hijinks are maximized at every opportunity by the relentless Dustin Tucker. The preternaturally morose Jacques is played by David Anthony Smith, which means this downer of a character is actually one of the funnier folks on stage. Once again, Smith works his magic, turning Jacques' classic line — "I can suck melancholy out of a song as a weasel sucks eggs" — into a signature laugh line. Indeed, there are no weak parts in this production, and the neatly efficient set designed by Russell Metheny —starting with Industrial Age rusted metal and changing to a dark and welcoming glade of trees — allows the flow of the show to sweep the audience along. (Howey)
Through April 19 at the Hanna Theatre, 2067 East 14th St., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.