Monday, October 14, 2013

The Long Ride Home

by Kimberly Colburn

THE CAST:  Rebecca Mozo, Matt Caplan, Klarissa Mesee and Jenny O'Hara.
It’s the middle of the night, and 91-year-old Vera has been woken up by an insistent buzzing at the door; her hearing isn’t what it used to be. She’s not expecting anyone, and she certainly isn’t expecting who it turns out to be: her grandson, Leo, who’s been incommunicado for the past few months, riding his bicycle across the country sans cell phone.

Leo doesn’t quite explain what brought him to Vera’s door, but it’s clear that he’s still a little lost in his life. He’s not ready to talk to his mother yet and he’s already been booted from his girlfriend’s house—she’s still mad at him for not calling all summer. Vera persuades him that he can lay low and get his bearings at her apartment in Greenwich Village—she’s an old political Leftie and perhaps senses a kindred spirit in her staunch environmentalist grandson.

This is the moment that opens Amy Herzog’s play 4000 Miles. We meet the central characters right when their relationship begins to change. Of course, Vera has known Leo since he was born; but when they find themselves sharing space, they get to know each other in a whole new way.

Herzog based the character of Vera on her own grandmother, Leepee Joseph, with whom she shared a strong bond. Her grandmother passed away since the play was produced at Lincoln Center in New York last year.

[Read a a New York Times profile of Herzog and her grandmother.]

In 4000 Miles, we see the bond between Vera and Leo grow and develop as we learn more about their lives and the tragedy that Leo is struggling to move past. Herzog’s work unfolds with exacting, well-observed characters that highlight the inter-generational relationship as Leo finally begins to face adulthood. Even as Leo makes the mistakes of youth, Vera naturally makes room in her life and thrives on the unexpected attention of her grandson, helping to instill our sympathy for the troubled young man. Sometimes, the only way to grow up is to confront the past, and relying on his grandmother gives Leo the space to find his way.

The humanity in the piece is what drew director David Emmes. He explains that it “is an intimate and insightful play about the nature of compassion and healing, as reflected in the relationship between a 91-year-old Leftist and her rebellious grandson.” He’s put together a standout cast, including Jenny O’Hara as Vera and Matt Caplan as Leo (meet the cast here), and a fantastic team of designers familiar to SCR audiences. Ralph Funicello (Elemeno Pea, Misalliance), one of America’s leading scenic designers, will be designing the set, with Sara Ryung Clement (How the World Began, Completeness) on costumes, Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz (Ordinary Days, La Posada Mágica) on lights, and Cricket S. Myers (The Parisian Woman, Sight Unseen) designing sound.

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