“The worst thing about getting old– is losing your words.” Tana Hicken as Vera, laments to her grandson, Leo, this particular sadness about aging. Amy Herzog’s play “4000 Miles” enters the space between a grandmother, presumably in her 70s or 80s, and her 20-something grandson. The Studio Theater has done a remarkable production of this dialogue-rich play. Tana Hicken and Grant Harrison, pictured above (Photo credit: Studio Theater/Tom Suchman) engage, come close, retreat, and come close again in this moving play about finding one’s way.
One beautiful element of this play is that it is not plot-driven. It’s driven by the characters whose lives unfold before us. Vera, a widowed grandmother and peace activist, receives a surprise visit from her grandson Leo, who has completed a bike ride across the country. He began the ride with a friend, Micah, who dies along the way. So Leo has a number of sadnesses to work out. Both Leo and Vera show us, through Herzog’s short scenes, that the action of the play is them. Their confrontations, forgiveness, honesty, and love thread the audience through two very different, but connected lives.
Another fascinating element of this play is the centrality of Vera’s character. You rarely see an actress in her 70s or 80s– or a character of that age who isn’t stereotyped badly. Amy Herzog has created a character in Vera who honors her age, in its beauty and limitations.
This play has been extended at the Studio Theater. I’m not sure how much longer it runs. It is a gorgeous play, well-worth seeing.