AMERICAN writer Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles play had its UK premiere in Bath four years ago, and now Peter Fernandez brings the four hander to the stage of the Swan in Yeovil.
There is nothing easy or comfortable about this four-hander, set in the New York apartment of nonagenarian Vera Joseph. She’s a card-carrying Communist of the old school, doggedly hanging on to the low-rent, great view rooms she shared with her late husband until his death a decade ago.
Then at 3am, the doorbell rings and there stands her grandson Leo, sweaty from his trans-American ride with his bike at his side. He may be full of modern cod-psychology, but he’s a kind and sensitive soul and he carries not only weighty panniers but a recent trauma he hasn’t yet faced (or processed and reached closure, as you might say these days.)
Between Vera and Leo is Jane – her daughter, his mother – an unseen but constant presence who both want to love and respect, but just get round the infuriatingly disappointing reality of her life.
As the couple of days expands to three months, the two come to rely on one another in unexpected ways, and eventually the story of Leo’s ride, and the death of his friend Mica, unfolds.
This is a coming of age play, but not just for the gauche but charming teenager.
Stunning performances by Jenny Hancock and Oliver Delafeld are at the centre, with cameo roles from Swan newcomers Rosy Sargent and Ella Foster. Jenny Hancock, returning to the Swan stage after too long a break, seems to have built her reading of the feisty but failing Vera on the turn of her left foot, and mighty effective it is.
Oliver Delafeld returns quickly after his mesmerising performance in Foxfinder last Autumn, proving his versatility as the anguished Leo.
Both give performances of power and conviction, bringing a very modern and different story to the Yeovil audience.
Pete Fernandez directs with a keen eye for detail, both in contemporary speech styles and the bigger picture of an America when The Donald was just a bad joke who had torn down the beautiful Art Deco Bonwit Teller building to erect a huge pink marble personal monument.
Humanity and the need for warm relationships are at the heart of this remarkable play, on until 21st January. Don’t miss it.