4000 Miles

Kicking Horse Pass, BC

Kicking Horse Pass, BC

“4000 Miles” was the Rep’s Studio Theater play last night. It was another Friday night dinner and a show, date night for Anne and me. We have season tickets to the Rep’s Main Stage, like last weekend’s “Good People”, but occasionally we go down the stairs, to the basement and partake of their less mainstream offerings. Dinner was at CJ Muggs, one of the triumvirate from our choices for Repertoire dinner-theater fare. The preshow was the many other parties dining there before the big Father-Daughter dance at Nerinx Hall High School. Nerinx is a girl’s school, which adjoins the Webster University campus. Webster use to be a girl’s school too. Never have I seen the male-female age demographics so skewed at Muggs. We couldn’t enjoy this preshow too long, because we had to leave to line up for the Studio Theater’s open seating. We got second row center, mainly because we were too shy to sit in the front row.

“4000 Miles” is Amy Herzog’s 2011 play about Leo, cyclist and grandson, who shows up unexpectedly at 3 AM at his Grandmother Vera’s Greenwich Village apartment. Leo has ridden from Seattle to NYC, 4000 miles. He has performed this feat, but there is a pall over it that the audience is not immediately privy to. The next day has Vera returning from a funeral for the last of the Octo-eight, “He was a bastard, but he was the last one, except for me.” The play progresses over several weeks, where Vera and Leo alternately spar, commiserate or simply learn from each other. It is an environment where a new age leftist meets his communist card-carrying ancestor and voting Democrat is deemed hypocrisy. There are two love interests, Bec and Amanda, but their importance is secondary to Leo and Vera’s growing acquaintance. Herzog’s play offers the gambit of humor, human emotion and hope. She succeeds in portraying a world where the young and the old actually speak with each other.

Anne and I both loved “4000 Miles”. It resonated for us on a family level. We saw many of our family members and their friends reflected in the characters portrayed in this play. Showing some discretion, I’ll not draw any particular analogies. This play really resonated for us personally too, because in our youth, we made a similar journey to the one alluded to in this play. Our journey was made in 1982 and we rode 5000 miles, but whose counting? Back then, there were no cell phones. We kept our relatives apprised of our progress the best that we could with postcards. Of course we left out the nitty-gritty details, in particular, the logging trucks, on the Trans-Can, in the mountains of British Columbia. What were we thinking? We had so much fun though and lived to tell it. Isn’t that adventure?

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