The Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center is now home to Vera Joseph (Mary Louise Wilson) and her grandson Leo (Gabriel Ebert). She’s 91. He’s 21.
A modern day, carefree Hippie with bushy mutton chops, Leo has been riding his bicycle cross country, has had some bad luck with his sister, girlfriend and bicycling buddy who has had a tragic accident with a Tyson Chicken truck along the way and has arrived at three in the morning at Grandma Vera’s West Village apartment to crash and set up camp for a while at least.
He is half way through the open door as the play begins. Will someone please explain to me how he got the door open? His first words, I believe are something like “I’ve been buzzing for twenty minutes” (which we haven’t heard) or something like that and yet he is in the double lock door apartment as his Grandmother waddles out of her bedroom to see what all the fuss is about. Calmly, she has him wait as she retrieves her teeth.
This set me off on the wrong foot and I had lots of trouble thereafter with this new, seemingly long play without intermission by Amy Herzog, entitled 4000 miles which could be subtitled HUGS – of which there are quite a few. Perhaps I missed something. She does give him a set of keys later on…oh well, back to the story.
The excellent set by Lauren Helpern includes the outer hallway and the door to Vera’s “pain in the ass” neighbor’s apartment 8B. She’s unseen but important to the plot and its abrupt ending.
Along the way Vera and Leo get to know each other, share memories, stories about sexual infidelities and get high on pot. She’s obviously open minded and the senior members of the audience of which there were many got a kick out of her problems with the loss of words, keys, hearing aid and checkbook. Problems shared by one and all of a certain age.
But she can still do Leo’s laundry. And loan him some money. And be truly concerned about her grandson – tall and lanky and adrift. Yes, another odd couple.
The lighting design by Japhy Weideman casts a cozy glow over the many scene changes which seem to take forever despite some pleasant music by Ryan Rumery.
The other two women in Leo’s life are his girlfriend Bec (a brash Zoe Winters) soon to be his ex and a one night pick up Amanda (Greta Lee) a Chinese girl who reminds him of his sister – who is also Chinese. She’s adopted and he has a fondness for her that others find strange. They have a Skype conversation via Vera’s Mac.
Amy Herzog has lots to say, including some bits about Communism, in this interesting character study of two people who have much in common despite their age difference. Leo’s monologue dealing with his buddy’s death will make a nice audition piece for actors. But I grew increasingly impatient with this latest Lincoln Center Off Broadway experiment directed by Daniel Aukin.
www.lct.org EXTENDED through June 17th. Photo: Erin Baiano
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