BWW Review: 4,000 MILES at New Mexico Actors Lab
The 2019 New Mexico Actors Lab season has been a very strong one, and the trend continues with their final production, 4,000 Miles. Amy Herzog's 2013 Pulitzer finalist is about, in large part, the relationship between 21 year old Leo and his 91 year old grandmother, dealing with themes of family, loss, responsibility, and love in a lovely, intimately staged fashion.
As is standard for NMAL, this production features an exceptional cast. As Vera, the nonagenarian, Suzanne Lederer is perfection. She commanded the attention of the audience from her first second on stage, and commanded the attention of the audience completely. Ms. Herzog's script, like many contemporary plays, features modern vocal and speech patterns that can be difficult for actors to master, but Ms. Lederer gave an astonishingly natural and nuanced delivery - had I not known how Ms. Lederer speaks ordinarily, I would have honestly thought that Vera's vocal patterns were her own.
Mickey Dolan's Leo was also wonderfully crafted. His portrayal of the grief stricken young man was elegantly done - my regular theatre going partner, my fiance, commented that he felt that Mr. Dolan made the excellent choice of not letting certain characteristics of the character (whether the grief or the character's outdoorsy nature) define the performance, but rather really accessed the normal guy in a very sadly abnormal situation.
As Leo's love interests, of sorts, Robyn Rikoon and Alyssa Bonnano were also excellent. Ms. Rikoon's grounded portrayal of Leo's ex girlfriend, Bec, was full of beautifully crafted moments and interactions, and the fight the two characters have was brilliantly executed. As Amanda - a party girl/potential one night stand, Ms. Bonnano gave a wonderfully quirky and comedic performance, while still keeping her character totally real and without veering into manic pixie dream girl territory.
Technical elements were also highly effective and well executed - Skip Rapoport's lighting design was excellent, as were technical elements devised by Argos MacCallum. All contributed to the space at Teatro Paraguas taking on the feeling of an apartment in lower Manhattan.
Director Dr. Robert Benedetti's program note simply stated that the play "makes him feel good" and that he hopes it does the same for the audience. For this audience member, the understated, sweet play did exactly that - and made me want to call my grandmother.
4,000 Miles runs one more weekend, Thursday - Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:00. For reservations (strongly recommended), visit https://www.nmactorslab.com/