Portraying grandson and grandmother, Matthew William Bennett and Nancy A. Herman, in the production of the Amy Herzog play “4000 Miles” at Eastbound Theatre, Milford

Eastbound Theatre, Milford: It’s not easy to direct and perform a major role in the same play. It’s especially not easy for a director to step into a major role at the last minute. However, Nancy A. Herman just proved that it can be done and it can be done well. In Amy Herzog’s “4000 Miles,” Herman manages to deliver a first rate performance while the rest of the cast delivers their outstanding performances. With all the actors demonstrating their fine talents, this Pulitzer-nominated play is one  that audiences will thoroughly enjoy — no matter what their age.

The plot focuses on Vera and Leo, a grandmother and grandson who haven’t seen each other in some time. Leo who has been biking cross country and who has experienced a great loss arrives at 3 a.m. at his grandmother’s Manhattan apartment. Since no one has heard from Leo and since his family has been worried about him, his arrival is a surprise. Over the course of his unexpected stay, the two learn about each other’s lives, loves, and losses. While technology humorously emphasizes the generation gap, true communication brings young and old closer together.

Nancy A. Herman deserves more than a fair share of kudos. Because the leading lady originally cast in this play had to leave the show during the final week of rehearsals, Herman stepped in and saved the day. Except for the less than realistic gray wig she wears, she convinces all that she is a smart and caring grandmother. Her performance is natural and unpretentious. Her eyes are so expressive that they punctuate her feelings even when she doesn’t speak. Her character is likable from start to finish whether with or without teeth or hearing aid. On opening night she delighted the audience. She has a knack for making humor happen even in the most delicate situations.

Matthew William Bennett plays Leo, a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University’s Theater program and with plenty of acting and other theatrical experience, he too is a natural. He plays just the kind of young man you want to shake up one minute and hug the next. He keeps the audience wondering what happened to him and by the time he reveals all, he has the audience eating out of his hand.

Katie Scott plays Bec, Leo’s on and off again girlfriend. She demonstrates quite realistically how breaking up is really hard to do. Confident and poised, Scott plays a difficult role that could easily turn the audience against her character, but this actress manages to keep Bec in perspective as a wise and honest person.

Schee Lee as Amanda, is a big breath of fresh air. Make that a gigantic breadth of a performance. Knowing how to milk a minor role, Lee capitalizes on every line and every movement. Lee’s performance is as wild and free as her character’s personality.

Overall, this is an outstanding production at Eastbound. It plays through June 18.

Box office: 203-878-6647.

Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]


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