The essential failure of Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles—the story of an angry cyclist and his passive-aggressive relationship with his testy, suspicious grandmother—is its lack of direction and absence of coherent plotting, along with characters who, with one exception, start off being largely unlikable and reveal themselves so slowly that by the time we see something admirable, it’s too late.
So credit must be given to director Norman Hall for casting an intrinsically appealing cast for the play’s run at the Novato Theater Company: Shirley Nilsen Hall and Jesse Lumb as the grandmother and grandson, and Emily Radosevich and Courtney Yuen in supporting roles. Hall allows them to show their vulnerable sides even in the midst of some off-putting, occasionally repellant behavior, and they prove expert at mining laughs from the long, uncomfortable silences that often hang between their halting words.
I still don’t think much of the play itself, but this amiable and occasionally moving production definitely makes me dislike it less.
★★★½ (Out of five)
‘4000 Miles’ runs Friday–Sunday through April 17 at the Novato Theater Company Playhouse. 5420 Nave Drive, Novato. $15–$25. 415.226.9353.
This review originally ran in the North Bay Bohemian