4000 Miles -- Too Much and Too Little

By Karen Isaacs

Amy Herzog's play 4000 Miles was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, but I for one don't see what the excitement is about. The play is now at Long Wharf through March 16 in a fine production.

The problem is the play itself. It has promise but just goes all over the place. The plot is simple; 20-something Leo shows up at his grandmother's lower Manhattan apartment at 3 a.m. having biked from Seattle. Leo obviously has problems -- he is estranged from his mother, his best friend died in a bizarre accident on the trip, and he broke up with his girl friend. His grandmother is losing her hearing. She is not quite sure what to make of this somewhat strident anti-establishment environmentalist in her home. One of the gimmicks is that grandmother is a leftist, possibly a communist although as the play progresses it seems that her views were more her husband's than necessarily hers.

So what happens? Not very much. Over a period of some weeks the ex-girl friend shows up -- she just happens to also be living New York City, Leo picks up and brings home another girl, and grandmother's hearing deficiencies and sometimes loss of words passes for humor. The two major events is Leo describing the accident which killed his friend. In this moment you truly see beneath his facade to the confused and depressed young man. There is also an unnecessary scene of grandmother and grandson high on pot.

Micha Stock as Leo and Zoanne Leroy as Vera make the most of their roles. And Eric Ting has done a good as director. I found the layout of the set very unrealistic for a New York City apartment. Perhaps it says something about the play's deficits that I focused so much on the set.

Herzog is obviously a talented playwright. I only hope that someday we look at this as one of her minor works.

4000 Miles is at Long Wharf Theater through March 16th.

This reviewed aired on WNHU-FM, 88.7 and www.wnhu.net.


Posted 3.4.2014

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