In Amy Herzog’s play, 4000 Miles, playing at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre through March 16th, a grandmother and her early 20’s year old grandson, suddenly thrown together, slowly forge a symbiotic and trusting relationship that leads to mutual understanding and growth for the impetuous young man.
The play begins as Leo (Micah Stock) surprises his grandmother (Zoaunne Leroy) when he arrives at her Greenwich Village apartment in the middle of the night, having just concluded a cross-country trek on his bicycle. The youth, a free spirit and a bundle of self-importance, asks for temporary shelter while deciding his next step in life. The brief stay soon stretches out for three weeks as the two become closer and more dependent on each other. Along the way Leo must deal with death, relationships, and family matters.
During the almost two hour, intermissionless show Herzog gradually builds a story that seems longer then the aforementioned time frame, but fulfilling in the end. Her characters are full of personality and complexities as they struggle with each other’s temperament and individuality. The playwright also manages to weave in the pain of aging and the desolation of loneliness.
Micah Stock is impressive as the irresponsible and immature grandson. He is irritating and self-absorbed, yet also vulnerable as he comes to grip with his personal demons and uncertainties. Zoaunne Leroy is wonderful as the octogenarian grandmother, Vera Joseph. She is mercurial and sassy, but pained as she confronts her own frailties while trying to develop some type of rapport with her daughter’s son. Leah Karpel as Leo’s girlfriend, Bec, is fine but not given enough emphasis to make her role as well-rounded as the two central performers. The same goes for Teresa Avia Lim as Leo’s one night stand, Amanda.
Director Eric Ting doesn’t hurry the material, allowing the actors to sink into their roles and let them slowly evolve. His pacing of the production is key. Some audience members may find the play’s tempo somewhat sluggish or lethargic, but those that stay attuned to the show’s rhythms will be rewarded with a rich and satisfying, yet melancholy ending.
4000 Miles, at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre through March 16th.