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“4000 Miles” is an Intergenerational Relationship Dramady that Works

The idea that one generation can learn from another is loud and clear in Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles being presented by Cadence Theatre Company in partnership with Virginia Rep.

The slice-of-life comedy/drama revolves around the relationship between 21-year-old Leo and his elderly grandmother, Vera. After a tragic event on a cross-country biking trip, a scruffy looking Leo ends up on the doorstep of Vera’s apartment in Greenwich Village in the wee hours of the morning. Vera, who was sleeping before the knock on the door, is surprised and perplexed by his spontaneous visit.

In some respects the two are very different, and in other ways, they are very much alike. Both grandmother and grandson lean to the left when it comes to their politics, but they butt heads when it comes to Leo’s strained relationship with his mother. Both are glad to have each other’s company, but neither will admit it.

Leo is searching for meaning in his life, trying to figure out the next stage, while Vera is dealing with the realities of aging and the fact that friends her age are dying. All of Leo’s relationships are as complex as they are fragile, including his relationship with Vera and his girlfriend, Bec who wants to call it quits.

Vera is feisty and brutally honest. She has trouble getting around as easily as before, and gets angry every time she forgets a word, which she does often. Her sharp, offhanded remarks to Leo are as humorous as they are truthful.

The four-member cast in this production gels together well. Johnny Day is convincing as the eco-minded, hippie Leo who is searching for his own identity.

The interactions between Day and Irene Ziegler who takes on the role of Vera are genuine. You feel as though you are watching a family that has actual history.

Ziegler delivers a tour-de-force performance that is as mesmerizing as it is genuine. She is so believable that by the end of the production you will feel that she is part of your own family because you know her so well.

Rich Mason’s intricate scenic design and Elizabeth Weiss Hopper’s costumes add to the authenticity of the production.

This intimate production runs through May 21 at Theatre Gym at  Virginia Rep Center. This show is not suited for kids under the age of sixteen. Visit Virginia Rep for showtimes and tickets.

An award-winning writer based in Richmond, Joan Tupponce is a parent, grandparent, and self-admitted Disney freak. She writes about anything and everything and enjoys meeting inspiring people and telling their stories. Joan’s work has appeared in RFM since the magazine’s first issue in October 2009. Look for original and exclusive online articles about Richmond-area people, places, and ideas at Just Joan: RVA Storyteller.

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