BWW Review: The New Jewish Theatre's Funny and Heartfelt 4000 MILES
Amy Herzog's marvelous play, 4000 MILES, draws upon relationships and people from the playwright's own life. The experience of watching these characters interact is undeniably affecting, and definitely warms the heart. It made me wish I had had a grandmother like the one that is portrayed on stage. The New Jewish Theatre is presenting a fine production of this show that's both hilarious and touching, and highly recommended.
Late one night, Leo shows up on the doorstep of his 91-year old grandmother, Vera, with his bicycle in tow. He's pedaled some 4000 miles to pay her a visit, but there's far more to the story. He's recently lost a good friend to a horrible traffic accident that occurred while they were traveling across the country and, at the same, he's grown weary of the oppressive atmosphere he feels at home. He's searching for something that will give his life some meaning, even if he's not completely aware of it yet, and the few weeks he spends with his grandmother provides him with a chance to grow up and accept more responsibility.
Chris Tipp excels as Leo, bringing out the character's impulsiveness and immaturity, while managing to remain distinctly likable. Amy Loui delivers a strong performance as Vera, brilliantly conveying the physical and mental effects that a long and colorful life have taken on her, while still maintaining a fairly good outlook. Together, their interplay is quite funny, even while it tugs at the heart. Rachel Fenton is also sharp as Leo's ex, Bec, who makes it quite clear to him that she expects him to be more of a man than the grown up boy that he's become. Grace Langford is amusing as Amanda, a tipsy and slightly eccentric college girl that Leo brings back to Vera's apartment one night.
Edward Coffield directs this piece, and he bring forth the comedic and dramatic elements present in a nifty balancing act that never tips too far one way or the other. Marissa Todd's scenic design is very well done, working in concert with the Muny's T3 Training Program for High School Students. Michele Friedman Siler's costumes are nice fits for each character, and Michael Sullivan's lighting captures the mood of each scene.
The New Jewish Theatre closes their 20th season with a production of 4000 MILES that is truly must-see theatre. The show continues through May 28, 2017.
Photo credit: Eric Woolsey