THEATER REVIEW: “4000 Miles” @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Macey Levin
Leo has cycled across the United States from Washington State, with several side jaunts, finally to arrive at his Grandma Vera’s apartment in Manhattan. Amy Herzog’s gentle play 4000 Miles, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2013, currently at Shakespeare & Co.’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre in Lenox, examines the relationship of these two people who have family bonds but are light-years away from each other due to their generational disparities. These differences in attitudes and life experiences are key to the thematic statements of this terrific production.
The eighty-something-year-old Vera (Annette Miller) has lived her life in New York City where she and her late husband Joe were political lefties; Leo (Gregory Boover) is a philosophical lefty who is also a vegan, an environmentalist… and all those things one would expect of a twenty-something-year-old who doesn’t know who he is or what he wants to do with his life. The two parry, hug, laugh and argue about small things and then confide in each other about big things. Most importantly, they help each other. Vera sets Leo on a path to maturity; Leo gives Vera a newly-found respect for herself.
The characters roll through a series of mini-crises and a couple of blow-ups, some dealing with Leo’s love/hate relationship with his mother, whom he calls Jane; a problem that has arisen between him and his adopted Chinese sister; Vera’s missing checkbook and more. None of the various situations causes grave conflict, but the two gain insight into each other and themselves.