Westport Country Playhouse
Westport Country Playhouse is currently presenting an excellent production of Amy Herzog’s bittersweet play, “4000 Miles.” This play concerns the growing relationship between Leo, a college age young man, and his grandmother, Vera, who lives in New York City and is in her early nineties. At the start of the show, Leo has ended up at Vera’s apartment after having traveled cross country on his bicycle.
What helps make this play work so well are the fine performances from the entire company of four, though there is one actress who truly stands out and makes this production a must-see. Her name is Mia Dillon and she plays the role of the grandmother brilliantly and her portrayal is incandescent from start to finish. Director David Kennedy has done a great job of staging this play and the show is so engaging that one almost doesn’t want it to end. Westport Country Playhouse’s production of “4000 Miles” is both entertaining and quite moving and it is most highly recommended.
On Arnulfo Maldonado’s beautiful set of a Manhattan apartment, “4000 Miles” shows how Leo and his grandmother Vera gradually get to know each other when Leo decides to stay with her for an undisclosed period of time. In addition to these two characters, there is also Bec, Leo’s on-again/off-again girlfriend, and Amanda, whom Leo, at one point, brings back to the apartment for a one-night-stand. Clay Singer is extremely good as Leo and he is quite believable as a young man who lives his life without knowing what will come next and who thinks nothing of having traveled across the country on his bike. As Bec, Lea DiMarchi does a satisfying job in her two scenes in the play and she fully displays the discord and disappointment she has with Leo, though she also brings an endearing quality to her character.
As Amanda, Leo’s pickup for the night, Phoebe Holden is like a live wire onstage and she makes so much out of her brief time in the show that it is really kind of astounding. By turns hilarious, angry, and emotionally overwrought, Holden is a gem and gives a truly riotous, scene-stealing performance. Costume designer Maiko Matsushima has done a terrific job with all the costumes, though the funky outfit that Holden wears is a real knockout. This actress is so good, that it leaves one to wonder how she would be in an even bigger role.
In any other production, Phoebe Holden would walk away with the show, but then there is Mia Dillon, whose performance as Vera is just beautiful and Dillon really makes her character the centerpiece of the play. While this throws off the balance of the show a little bit, since “4000 Miles” is equally about the character of Leo, this actress is so riveting and glorious that it almost doesn’t matter. Whether Dillon is dialing the phone to yell at her next door neighbor, scolding her grandson for a number of various reasons, or simply recounting stories of her relationship with her late husband, this actress is transcendent and warm and one almost can’t take one’s eyes off of her, even when there are other actors onstage. I have been fortunate to have seen Mia Dillon in other plays, but her performance in “4000 Miles” is magic and outdoes anything else I have seen her do.
No doubt, director David Kennedy has helped coax such a great portrayal from Dillon, though his work throughout the entire show is sterling and he keeps the pacing of the production absolutely ideal. In addition to his other designers, Kennedy also does well with lighting designer Carolina Ortiz Herrera, who has done an expert job lighting this show, and the sound design by Fitz Patton is crisp and clear. Actually, all the elements in Westport Country Playhouse’s production of “4000 Miles” are absolutely first-rate and this is quite a worthwhile play to see. Still, among all of the excellent facets of this show, it is Mia Dillon’s effortlessly wonderful performance which stands out the most and this is truly a performance to take to one’s heart.
“4000 Miles” runs through September 4, 2022, at Westport Country Playhouse, in Westport, CT. For information and tickets, please visit www.westportplayhouse.org
Photo: Clay Singer and Mia Dillon
Photo by Carol Rosegg