Presented by University of Adelaide Theatre Guild Inc
Reviewed: Saturday 9th October 2021
Erik Strauts has assembled a stellar cast backed by an exceptional production crew to stage Amy Herzog’s 2011 Pulitzer Prize-nominated play 4000 Miles. From the moment the lights come up on this heart-warming, challenging and darkly funny piece of theatre you are engaged in the life and times of Leo, sensitively, and intuitively, brought to life by Jackson Barnard as he arrives at the Manhattan apartment of his grandmother Vera given life, love and warmth in the capable and delicious interpretation of this feisty old lady so generously brought to life by Julie Quick. Not a moment of caricature threatened to spoil the situations these two actors breathed life into. Ably supported by Laura Antoniazzi’s Bec, tired of waiting for the right moment to move on. Laura had just the right touch of acid to make this American college girl’s selfish stubbornness believable, and she doesn’t get it all her own way which makes the contest bitter-sweet. Naomi Gomez threatened to unbalance the show as she stalked onto the stage with her predatory interpretation of Amanda and just the right amount of prejudice and inebriation made the time she spent on stage a joy to watch. Great comic flair added to this late-night joust.
Getting stoned with grandma might be something new for a lot of the younger generation but Herzog must have had a ball getting grandma stoned to have written such an authentic representation of that scene which is worth the price of the ticket on its own!
Quick and Barnard are truly plugged into the journey of the beautifully constructed text that Herzog has written. It’s a parable about coming to terms with grief, learning to love and trust after some devastating personal losses and, no matter how large the gulf of age, finding empathy and love to give us hope. I was immediately engaged by the expert storytelling that lifted this play into our worlds and made the world go away on a cool spring night. It is funny and meticulously observed, and deals with how we mourn the loss of those we hold dear, whether they die or we just grow out of love with them.
Nicole Puttins’ set brings Manhattan apartment life into the Little Theatre space and uses the levels to great effect and Richard Parkhill and Ellen Damaagd use light to great effect to bring the clever set to life. Emma Knights’ music adds to the rhythm and flow of the piece, and the play moves with accuracy, and pace, to a gentle and fulfilling climax that gives the characters we have come to love a way to move forward.
I have a request. Although the text says Lily’s voice is soft, we need to be able to hear her dialogue or it is very hard to make sense of what she’s saying and the situation Leo has to deal with. I couldn’t hear her in the back row. Please turn the volume up a bit.
A really beautifully crafted piece of work by a gifted and hard working ensemble of actors and crew. This one is one not to be missed.
Reviewed by Adrian Barnes
Warning: Sexual references and mild drug use
Venue: Little Theatre, The Cloisters, (Gate 10 off Victoria Drive), University of Adelaide
Season: Thursday to Saturday 14-16 & 21-23 October 2021, 7.30pm
Duration: 2 hours with 15 minute interval
Photo Credit: Richard Parkhill