Notting Hill’s Print Room has secured another theatrical coup, working with the Ustinov Studio at the Theatre Royal Bath to bring the UK premiere of 4000 Miles to London. Winner of multiple awards in the US, Amy Herzog’s play involves the relationship between elderly Vera and her grandson Leo, who unexpectedly pitches up at Vera’s New York apartment having completed a cross-country bike ride marred by tragedy.
Nurtured by his grandmother’s presence, the young man’s emotional journey is just beginning. It’s a modest premise, perhaps, but, with superb performances from Daniel Boyd and Sara Kestelman, love, life and death are observed with such a realistic eye that the play is fascinating.
The simple story is elevated to extraordinary theatre by Herzog’s characterisation and James Dacre’s precise direction. Each scene, though dealing with the mundane is never ordinary, as the subtle, detailed observations build. The cast rises to the writing with Boyd and Kestelman joined by Leo’s love interests, both wonderfully drawn and performed by Jenny Hulse and Jing Lusi, although it has to be admitted that the latter steals the show for comedy value.
Herzog never stereotypes her characters – an especially impressive feat considering the politics in the play. Vera is an old Communist, Leo a new age hippy, and fun is poked at both. But Herzog is less concerned with single-issue politics than with the nature of our responsibilities to one another. Recognising the difficulties of both old age and youth, with plenty of wry comment to entertain, 4000 Miles shows different generations finding common ground in an original and moving manner. A remarkable achievement.
Until 1 June 2013
Photo by Jane Hobson
Written 17 May 2013 for The London Magazine