Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Wonderful Play

Mary Louise Wilson and Gabriel Ebert play grandmother and grandson in the New York production of "4000 Miles"
Photo by Chang W. Lee via here

The holidays are upon us and everyone is rushing around and getting ready.  It was nice to take a break from thinking about them and to remember a wonderful play I saw last Spring.  And, surprisingly, the memory of this play lead me back to the holidays and all the family reunions that are coming up.   I was in San Francisco over the weekend and noticed in the Arts Monthly that the play "4000 Miles" by Amy Herzog will be having its west coast premiere at the American Conservatory Theater in January.  The first time I heard of this play was when I read Charles Isherwood's beautifully written review of it in the New York Times in April.  Is is possible for a review to make you cry?  The answer is yes.  I was so touched by his description of the play -- its content and emotional power -- that I had to see it. Luckily, I was going to New York soon after reading the review and was able to get tickets for a performance.

The play is about a young man, the 21-year old Leo, who unexpectedly turns up on the doorstep of his feisty 91-year-old grandmother Vera's New York apartment.  Leo has just made a cross-country bike trip from Seattle (hence the title) and is seeking refuge from his parents with whom he has been fighting, as well as some healing from a tragedy that happened during the bike trip.   The relationship that develops between grandmother and grandson and the revelations about their characters are slowly and beautifully illuminated throughout the play.  It turns out that Leo is the more fragile of the two (at least emotionally) and the grandmother's wisdom and strength fortifies and comforts him.  They are both hippies, in their own way, and have much more in common than is outwardly apparent.  They are enriched by the experience of being together and the play brings attention to the important relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. There is a special kind of love and acceptance that comes from grandparents and this play made me think about my own and how important they were to my life.  "4000 Miles" is funny and poignant; it will remind you of many things that are true about human nature and life.  I remember leaving the theater feeling happy and inspired that plays like this are being written and performed.         

"4000 Miles" won two OBIE Awards, including best New American Play.  And now it is having its west coast premiere in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theatre in January!  If you live on the west coast and would like to see something very special, try to get tickets to this.  Go here for details.

I would love to know if you saw this play when it was in New York and what you thought of it.  Thinking about it now with Christmas just weeks away, I am reminded of all the young people who will be going home and reuniting with family, both parents and grandparents, for the holiday season.  Amy Herzog has written a beautiful play about family and how rewarding it is to make the effort to understand our differences and cherish our connections.  

12 comments:

  1. This sounds wonderful, Sunday. I doubt I'll be able to see it myself but I will have to let my best friend know: her boyfriend lives in San Francisco so she's down there visiting him a couple of times a month. They are both theatre-goers and I know they would love this.

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    1. I really hope they can make it, I am sure they will enjoy this play.

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  2. Can't wait to see the SF production! You've said such beautiful things about this play...I could never miss it!

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    1. You will love it, I am so happy you can go.

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  3. Sunday, This certainly sounds like a play I would enjoy. I, of course, will not be able to make it to San Francisco, but hopefully it will go on tour. Thanks for the review. Bonnie

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    1. It just may go on tour, that would be great.

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  4. I heard it was a terrific play. Not sure we'll see it in SF, but maybe? The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren are so special, and particular. I can't think of another that it duplicates. I called my grandmother or saw her virtually everyday in my 20's and early 30's. Still miss her so much, and when I have big news - have the urge to call her.
    OK - going to start crying myself right now. Thanks for this lovely reminder, and now I'm going to really try to get to SF and see it.

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    1. Kathy, I hope you can do it. What a great reason to go to San Francisco!

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  5. This really does sound lovely. I love my own grandma so much and am looking forward to visiting her next week. I cherish my relationship with her and am so happy to see art being created about grandparents.

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  6. thank you for the tip! We are so close to San Francisco - I am going to look at the link you posted. Sounds like a performance we'd enjoy.

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  7. PS I was able to get tickets - So looking forward to it. Read a nice Ny Times article featuring Herzog and her grandmother (who the vera character is based on). Thnx, as always, for this lovely tip and recommendation - I will let you know how the west coast cast is!

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    1. How exciting! Please let me know how you like it. I might just try to get up there to see this production...

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