Bryony Lavery’s play about the mother of a 10-year-old murder victim was one of the most stunning, original dramas presented by any local theater company in years. Without mitigating the crime’s horror, Lavery asked us to decide whether we — or the victim’s mother Nancy — could forgive a perpetrator who was himself a victim of abuse and whose heart was so frozen that he had lost all sense of the difference between good and evil. The Stageworks production featured two splendid performances — Monica Merryman as Nancy and Richard Coppinger as the murderer — and the impressively thoughtful direction of Anna Brennen. Nothing was compromised: The criminal was repulsive, and the mother was shattered. But the point was a meditation on guilt and innocence, grief and acceptance, and most of all, forgiveness. This was serious theater at its best, challenging us to feel — and think — deeply.

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