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Review: 4000 MILES at Westport Country Playhouse

Review: 4000 MILES at Westport Country Playhouse

The production runs Tuesdays through Sundays until September 4.

Love, loss, and growing old, and growing up are threads in the flawed tapestry of Amy Herzog's Obie award winning and Pulitzer Prize finalist play, 4000 Miles.

The play begins as 21-year-old Leo (Westport native Clay Singer) crashes the Greenwich Village apartment of his feisty 91-year-old grandmother, Vera (Fairfield resident Mia Dillon) at 3:00 a.m. He is sweaty and smelly, having finished a cross-country bike ride from Seattle. She is living alone self-sufficiently but suffering from the indignities of aging -- loss of hearing, teeth, and memory. Both Leo and Vera are engaging and quirky characters with strong affection for each other despite their differences in age, region (he loves the outdoors and she can't imagine a life outside the city, and values (he's hippyish and doesn't even own a cell phone; she's a card carrying Communist). They also have something painful and important in common: estrangement from Jane, Vera's stepdaughter and Leo's mother.

But their shared issue about Jane is not at the heart of the play. Leo comes across as care-free and aimless, but he is nursing the pain of losing his best friend, Mika, in a tragic accident during the bike trip and his guilt about kissing his adopted sister while he and his friends were drunk. He is also in an on-again, off-again relationship with Bec (Lia DiMarchi), who is trying to save the world, and has a brief date with barfly Amanda (Phoebe Holden). Vera, meanwhile, is outspoken about her opinion of Bec's weight, which offends Leo, and her unsatisfied relationships with her two husbands.

You have a foursome of interesting and likeable people, but the tapestry has a lot of holes. Neither Bec nor Amanda are fully developed characters. Bec seems too serious to even have much interest in Leo, and Amanda starts off as being flighty and superficial, but does a 180 the moment she hears about Vera's political leanings. The contrived ending does not tie up the loose ends and is just not plausible.

All that said, the production's strength is the amazing cast. Mia Dillon is incapable of giving less than a fantastic performance. Her Vera is spirited and kindhearted. Clay Singer is energetic and fun as Leo. DiMarchi is thoughtful and compassionate as Bec. And Phoebe Holden is a total delight as Amanda. These actors deserve a better script. Fortunately, David Kennedy's smooth direction helped to showcase their immense talents.

Kudos to the creative team for Arnulfo Moldanado's set of an enviable rent-controlled apartment, Carolina Oritz Herrera's lighting, Fitz Patton's sound, and Maiko Matsuhima's costumes.

The production runs Tuesdays through Sundays until September 4 and offers a special surprise. At the end of the run, ticket buyers will be entered into a giveaway for a Cannondale Adventure bike, courtesy of Cycleology Bike and Ski of Westport. To win, submit a name, phone number, and email when purchasing a ticket to the show any time until Sunday, Sept. 4 at 3 p.m. The Westport Country Playhouse is located at 25 Powers Court in Westport. For tickets, call (203) 227-4177 or visit https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2193600®id=60&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.westportplayhouse.org%2Fshow%2F4000Miles?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1. Don't forget to bring your mask and proof of vaccination. Follow Westport Country Playhouse on Twitter @WCPlayhouse, and Instagram @ wcplayhouse, and YouTube at WestportPlayhouse.

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