In the Morning of the Year 2000, Il Penseroso Productions, at Bailiwick Arts Center. In her first play Laura Matias has penned a subtle, moving drama: on the evening before the new millenium, a middle-aged daughter and her father come to terms with the past. The daughter is an English professor who came of age as an antiwar activist in the 60s, and her father is a retired heart surgeon who struggled through the Depression and came into financial and social prominence after the war. Both serve as symbols of their generations, but Matias has also crafted them into real individuals, and a sense of urgency is inherent in this history-making evening, though dramatically, more action could occur.

Director Errol McLendon cleanly shapes Matias’s naturalistic scenes into dramatic arcs and, since this is a play of conversation, allows the words to do their work. Dean Peerman makes the father a sympathetic, even charming character despite his daughter’s accusations of narrow-mindedness, anti-Semitism, and paternal control. And Ariel Brenner makes the daughter, who wears her pain on her sleeve, an honest, justifiably enraged person. Such great works as King Lear have explored the complex relationship between father and daughter; here it’s in the context of the legacy of the 20th century. No doubt the same issues will carry on into the next.

–Gabrielle S. Kaplan