4,000 Miles – Review by Tom Nissley

t’s 3a.m., and Leo (Clay Singer) has been trying to use an outside buzzer to wake his grandmother Vera (Mia Dillon), who is not wearing her hearing aids and was not expecting him to visit in her Greenwich Village apartment. She does notice, during a welcoming hug, that he could use a shower.

This is the first of many vignettes that move the story of “4000 Miles,” now playing at the Westport Playhouse. For tickets go to www.westportplayhouse.org

Leo might be called new age in his thinking. He has just completed a bicycle trip from Seattle to New York. On the way his best friend and mentor, Micah, has been killed in a horrific accident with a truck. At a loss for integrating the loss into his psyche, he is wandering and wondering. He has a girlfriend, Bec (Lea DiMarchi) in New York, but doesn’t want to stay with her right now.

It’s delightful to watch this pair of skilled actors create a lumpy family system. Leo is caring and relatively careful with his grandmother. He fixes a nameplate on the buzzer; he adapts to her rituals of misplacing things like her checkbook and suspecting he has taken them; And it is he who breaks into the apartment across the way and gets Vera’s long-time neighbor to the hospital when she has fallen and is dying. Occasionally Leo and Vera hug each other and that is always fun to watch because he’s so tall and she’s so short. Singer is flexible enough to curl his self into a loveseat, with his head on Vera’s lap, or to stretch out to full length.

Both of Leo’s girlfriends provide humor in the script. When Bec visits Vera gives her a lecture on how usual it is for men to be unfaithful. But far funnier is Amanda’s reaction when she yields to Leo’s advances and is kissing him – then shrieks in surprise as Vera casually enters from the bedroom looking for something, turning that one-night stand into a very short one.

The most important of the vignettes is of Leo, lost in thought, sitting on the loveseat in a darkened scene, and telling his grandmother the details of Micah’s death on their way across country by bicycle when Micah was hit by a truck. Vera doesn’t have her hearing aids in, so she gets only the vibrations of the heart, but that is enough to bring resolution to the story.

The set is realistic and well done; sound and lighting are appropriate; costumes are wonderful. You may think sequences are too abrupt, for some are, or that it’s too dark here and there, and too hard to hear some phrase, but by and large you will enjoy this show if you get to see it. David Kennedy directs.