4,000 Miles – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

How fortuitous to view Amy Herzog’s moving generational play “4000 Miles” on Grandparents Day this past Sunday. Actress Mia Dillon who stars as grandma Vera calls it “sunny, moving and touching” and “a full (theatrical) meal.” Her co-star grandson Clay Singer terms it “a magnifying glass on humanity.” This cross country odyssey conveys challenges and losses and captures wonderful turning points in family relationships.

Come experience what happens when a genuine card carrying Communist and a free wheeling hippie renew their relationship as grandmother and grandson? 91 year old Vera Joseph has no warning that Leo had plans to crash on her Greenwich Village doorstep until he arrives in the middle of the night. After suffering a great personal loss, while biking across the country, Leo seeks refuge at grandma’s house. He needs to figure things out, examine his life choices and, essentially, grow up.

Using bits and pieces from her own history, playwright Amy Herzog has fashioned a play of personal exploration, “4000 Miles,” getting its wheels in gear at Westport Country Playhouse until Sunday, September 4. A finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2013, “4000 Miles” spans three generations, giving voice to many of the issues that face the elderly and the youth of today.

Mia Dillon stars as Vera, the feisty and forgetful bubbe who doesn’t hesitate to take in her conflicted grandchild. She recognizes that he is lost and seeking direction. She too is searching for answers, her confusion due to a great extent to what could be early Alzheimer’s. Clay Singer’s Leo has major issues with his personal relationships, with his parents, his adopted step-sister, his girlfriend Bec (Lea DiMarchi) and even a one night pick-up Amanda (Phoebe Holden). Despite all his problems, Leo acknowledges that a family member can be “a really good friend I happen to be related to.”

As Leo opens his heart and reveals his deepest thoughts, he connects with Vera in ways neither one of them ever could have anticipated. David Kennedy directs this inter-generational exploration of feelings on a deliberately dated set designed by Arnulfo Maldonado. All we need are the lace antimacaassars on the arm chairs.

For tickets ($40-70), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Route 1, Westport at 203-227-4177 or online at www.westportplayhouse.org. Performances are Tuesday 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3p.m. Masks are required.

After more than nine decades of diversity, in politics and bed partners, Vera has a wealth of knowledge to impart to her young guest, whether or not he is ready to listen and to learn. Come discover the virtual joys of hugging a hippie spiritually and conjuring up memories of a beloved grandma.

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