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News Section: Arts and Entertainment

Theater Review: Asolo Rep's 4000 Miles

Published Tuesday, April 8, 2014 12:02 am

SARASOTA – Amy Herzog's 4000 Miles was the critical smash of the 2013 season, earning a nod as finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. With poignant dialogue and vivid, character-driven drama, it is arguably one of the best-written plays of this decade. Led by the delightful performance of Lois Markle, the Asolo Repertory Theatre delivers a highly-satisfying production of this charming contemporary work.

Lois Markle and Benjamin Williamson 

Photo by Slaven Vlasic

4000 Miles tells the story of 21 year-old Leo Connell's extended stay with his elderly grandmother after intending to crash at her NYC apartment for a couple of days during a cross-country cycling trip. Leo is a young man in flux, dealing with a recent personal tragedy and strained family relations when he drops in on his maternal grandmother, a former radical leftist, whom he does not know very well.

What begins as an awkward visit, eventually unfolds into a rewarding exchange for both Leo and Vera, who come to know each other, each learning as much as they teach. Lois Markle radiates as Vera, the silver-haired pistol who despite being frustrated by the onset of hearing and memory loss, remains chock full of grit.

Director Tea Alagić, who scored a hit last season with Venus in Fur, deftly brings Herzog's stage play to life with the help of a highly credible set, designed by Marsha Ginsberg. Ginsberg's authentically dated looking Manhattan apartment benefits handsomely from Nick Kolin's skillful use of varied lighting, which successfully conveys the passing of hours in relation to the time of day and gives the apartment a remarkably authentic feel.


Benjamin Williamson and Maxey Whitehead in Asolo Rep's production of 4000 Miles

Photo by Slaven Vlasic

Markle, who had Broadway success alongside the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in True West, as well as Frank Galati's The Grapes of Wrath, skillfully delivers each of Vera's many sharp one-liners with adept timing, embodying perfectly the intelligent, self-possessed, activist female of her generation.

FSU/Asolo Conservatory's Benjamin Wilson gives a strong performance as Leo, whose granola lifestyle and millennial outlook are at first unfamiliar to the much older Vera, who nonetheless comes to see him as cut from largely the same cloth as her and her late husband.

Maxey Whitehead gives a solid performance as Leo's estranged girlfriend Bec who is attending college in the city, and Lisa Dring sings as a convivial NYC club-hopper he brings home after Bec gives him the boot. 4000 Miles runs in the Historic Asolo Theatre through April 27. For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Asolo Rep website.


Lois Markle and Benjamin Williamson in Asolo Rep's production of 4000 Miles

Photo by Slaven Vlasic

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Give the actors their correct names. Benjamin Williamson!
Posted by Liz rogoff on April 8, 2014

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