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In the Morning of the Year 2000

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IN THE MORNING OF THE YEAR 2000, Il Penseroso Productions, at Wheadon United Methodist Church. On any night but New Year's Eve--and not just any New Year's Eve but the last one of the 20th century--the dialogue in this one-act would seem artificial. But the twilight of an era breeds reckonings, and so this midnight is a natural and appropriate occasion for a middle-aged divorcee to settle scores with the father she holds responsible for the attrition that's rendered them the last of their line.

In the Morning of the Year 2000 is a contemplative play: no physical violence erupts, no lightning strikes, no menacing strangers intrude. But the hostile resentment to which William Wertman, a former brain surgeon now crippled by diabetes, and Renee Wertman, his English-professor daughter, have resigned themselves reverberates in their every word. And though playwright Laura Nilges-Matias makes a brave case for her patriarch's life decisions, he still comes off as a smug, contradictory bully every bit as unsympathetic as his accuser proclaims him.

Under Errol McLendon's direction, Dean Peerman and Ariel Brenner bring their characters to a gloomy but satisfying catharsis. Stronger hints of the redemption inherent in the dawn of a new age, however, would have allowed some hope of reconciliation and sent us home in a less melancholy mood.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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