Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires

4000 Miles
Berkshire Theatre Group
Review by Fred Sokol

Maria Tucci and Evan Silverstein
Photo by Caelan Carlough
Berkshire Theatre Group's thoughtful production of Amy Herzog's 4000 Miles is nuanced perfectly as it explores the complicated relationship between a progressive grandmother living in Greenwich Village and her bicycling grandson–and much more. The play is delightfully unpredictable and four adept actors maximize virtually all of the playwright's dialogue. Director Lizzie Gottlieb's has a knowing sense and her cast members' timing, as a result, is precise.

All of a sudden, sometime one night, Vera (Maria Tucci) is awakened by the jarring arrival of her grandson Leo (Evan Silverstein), as he wheels his bicycle into her cozy, inviting apartment. He has ridden for hours and hours and hasn't a destination. Vera, of course, offers him a room. The next morning, Vera discovers that the (perhaps) twenty-something boy is broke and he asks for money so he can get over to a climbing wall for exercise.

As the script unfolds, we learn that Vera is close friends with unseen neighbor Ginny, yet they communicate only by phone. Vera has lost almost everyone of her generation and she is having her own memory issues. How serious is this? She forgets where she might put almost anything. Still, she is smart, able to reason, and self-perceptive.

Leo is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, but lately of Seattle. He has a sister who was adopted and later Herzog weaves her in through significant subplot and theme. The young man's girlfriend, Bec (Gabriela Torres), arrives at Vera's apartment and it becomes clear that Leo is thrilled until he discovers she made the trek to break up in person. Leo then goes on about just how Micah, his best friend, came to his death while the two of them (Leo and Micah) were biking across the country.

Herzog further textures and layers her script by introducing Amanda (Allison Ye), with whom Leo might or might not have sex. That sequence yields to another, whereupon Leo provides further details about Micah and what occurred.

From the very beginning of this taut, revelatory drama, the actors look directly at one another. Each moment counts and Gottlieb accelerates or lessens pacing to accommodate turn of phrase and requisite mood. Leo, confused and emotionally open, desperately wants to find himself, establish an identity, solidify a personal relationship with Bec. He is hippie-ish and likable. Vera is aging and she knows it. Her fingers do not function as she wishes, and she is more than willing to confess that she hears poorly.

Jason Simms's set and prop choices for Vera's apartment are welcome: a green couch at center stage is inviting; various bookcases and a few green house plants fit neatly. Vera has probably used her rotary wall phone for decades. It is ancient but remains workable. Clare Manchon and Olivier Manchon, composers and sound designers, punctuate interludes between many of the scenes (sometimes these are a bit lengthy) with tingling music.

Youthful looking, Evan Silverstein's Leo is most appealing. The actor, who is completing his training at Guildhall School of Music & Drama, nails his character the moment he crosses (carrying his bike and packs) into Vera's place. Maria Tucci happens to be the mother of the show's director, Lizzie Gottlieb. Tucci brings a lengthy list of credits on and off Broadway. She plays Vera as someone in transition who is experienced, opinionated, but wondering what might become of her. These leading performances, in different ways, are both penetrating and absorbing. Gabriela Torres as Bec and Allison Ye, playing Amanda, are quite convincing.

Lizzie Gottlieb has directed many plays and also films, such as the recent Turn Every Page - The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb. That lively, informational documentary film deserves every award it received. Now, at the Unicorn, director Gottlieb strikes a fine balance as the actors are disciplined yet have freedom to create.

Amy Herzog continues to write with acuity and keen knowledge of character. Educated at Yale, she frequently has plays on the boards in New York City theaters. 4000 Miles premiered Off-Broadway in 2011. Berkshire Theatre Group's current affective rendering is performed with both purpose and sensitivity.

4000 Miles runs through June 1, 2024, at Berkshire Theatre Group, Unicorn Theatre, 6 East St., Stockbridge MA. For tickets and information, please call 413-997-4444 or visit