Friday, February 12, 2016

4000 MILES

Written by Amy Herzog
Directed by Anthony Skuse
A Critical Stages, Catnip and Mophead production
Q Theatre, Queanbeyan to 13 February 2016

Review by Len Power 11 February 2016

Amy Herzog’s play, ‘4000 Miles’ comes to us with a number of prizes already.  It was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, winner of the 2012 Obie Award for Best New American Play and named Time Magazine‘s Number 1 Play or Musical of 2012.

A deceptively simple play about a young man turning up unexpectedly to stay at his grandmother’s house in New York City after a coast-to-coast bicycle trip, it seems at the start to be an amusing battle of the generations comedy.  The play takes its time showing its true intent and it’s worth the wait as we see hidden pain surfacing in a young man having difficulty facing life and an elderly woman needing companionship but hiding behind a tough fa├žade.

What stands out particularly in this production is the depth of characterisation achieved by all four actors.  Diana McLean gives a superb performance as the grandmother – a fairly tough, occasionally funny old woman who has seen it all but who offers a quiet compassion on her own terms.  In a very believable performance, Stephen Multari plays the grandson as a disarming young man not yet ready to take on responsibility in his life and relationships and is hiding from a recent traumatic event.  Eloise Snape is particularly impressive as the young man’s on and off again girlfriend, showing the doubts, fears and needs of this young woman very well.  Aileen Hunyh is very funny but very real as a late night date that doesn’t quite work out.  She also plays the young man’s sister in a very different small role that she invests with great warmth and longing.

Also noteworthy were the very believable and different American accents by the actors.  Voice and dialect coach, Linda Nicholls-Gidley, has done fine work with the cast on this aspect.

Director, Anthony Skuse, has brought together a quietly impressive production.  It is played at a deliberate pace and is ultimately quite moving.  The set, originally designed by Gez Xavier Mansfield, made up of living room furniture but no walls works very well giving an instant impression of this old woman’s smallish New York apartment.  The lighting design, originally by Sara Swersky, with its glimmer of light coming through windows and shining across the apartment’s floor gives a nice atmosphere to the set.  Original sound design by Marty Jamieson adds another dimension to the show with a good choice of mood music and subtle sound effects.  Associate lighting (Alexander Berlage), production (Hugh O’Connor) and sound designers (Alistair Wallace) are credited in the program.

‘4000 Miles’ is an impressive drama that is entertaining as well as thought-provoking.
Len Power’s reviews can also be heard on Artsound FM’s ‘Artcetera’ program from 9am Saturdays.

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