Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mourning and Self-Discovery in '4000 Miles'

Leo (Gabriel Ebert) travels a long distance to heal and to visit his grandmother, Vera (Mary Louise Wilson), in "4000 Miles." Photos by Erin Baiano.


IN “4000 Miles,”
Leo’s (Gabriel Ebert) cross-country bike trip lands him at his grandma Vera’s (Mary Louise Wilson) door.

“After the Revolution” whetted the appetite for more from Amy Herzog’s pen, and “4000 Miles” absolutely fulfills the promise of the earlier play. (See http:/www./

In “4000 Miles,” at The Duke on 42nd Street in a Lincoln Center Theater LCT3 production through 9 July, we meet another branch of the Josephs clan. For those who have not encountered them before this short piece is as fine an introduction as any.

When he arrives at three in the morning, Leo’s selfish behavior can be attributed to the traumatic loss of his best friend during their journey.

As he continues to be an ungracious guest, allowing the 91-year old Vera to wash his clothes and clean up after him, it is clear that Leo has some growing up to do. MLW plays Vera with a tactful simplicity and directness.

Although their worldviews collide, Vera offers Leo the shelter he needs to grieve and mature.

Leo (Gabriel Ebert) isn't always the perfect grandson of Vera (Mary Louise Wilson) in "4000 Miles."

Vera is a “progressive,” as she puts, or as Leo expresses it, a “card-carrying Communist,” who believes that people should look out for each other.

Leo, on the other hand, suggests that each person do what’s best for himself. GE ably personifies Leo as the thoughtless boy ready to become a man. As the story unfolds, Leo benefits from an opportunity to look out for someone else.

AH’s “4000 Miles” is a compact dramatic work. Zoë Winters, as Leo’s ex-girlfriend Bec, and Greta Lee as Amanda, a girl he picks up at a party, round out the admirable cast.

There will be a second chance to catch “4000 Miles” when it makes its way to Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theater in the spring.

Visit to learn more about “4000 Miles.”

End of 'The Illusion' and the Signature as We Know It


Illusion” a magical play about, yes, illusion, features the talents of Lois Smith as the sorcerer, Alcandre, and David Margulies as a lawyer, the Pridamant of Avignon. It is loosely adapted from Pierre Corneille’s L’Illusion Comique by Tony Kushner.

Henry Stram as Geronte and Amanda Quaid as Isabelle in "The Illusion." Photo by Joan Marcus.

“The Illusion,” in an extended run through 17 July at the Signature Theatre Company’s Peter Norton Space, does not have the usual TK touches of politics and social commentary, though the Pridamant can be seen as one of society’s miscreants. For her part, Merrit Wever as a wily maid in the ever-changeling cast, shows a hint of evil greed to enliven the odd proceedings.

TK is the Signature’s last featured playwright at its Norton space. Established as a writer’s forum since its founding in 1991, the Signature has showcased the work of a single playwright each season, including Adrienne Kennedy, Horton Foote and Edward Albee.

In 2012, the Signature will fulfill its vision for growth by moving to MiMA on far West 42nd Street where it will gain three performance spaces. The new space is conceptualized and designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. It is called Signature Center.

Visit to learn more about “The Illusion” and what the future holds for the Signature Theatre Company.

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