Tragedy brings generations together in Western Edge Theatre’s first play of its 2021-22 season.
From Nov. 26 to Dec. 5 the local theatre company is bringing to the OV Arts Centre stage 4000 Miles, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated play by American playwright Amy Herzog.
In 4000 Miles, 21-year-old Leo, played by Icarus Skelly, is biking across the United States when an unexpected change in circumstances leads him to take refuge at the New York City home of his 91-year-old grandmother Vera, played by Clarice McCord.
The play was to have been staged in March 2020, but the day before the production moved into the OV Arts Centre it was postponed due to COVID-19. Brianna Hamilton, making her directorial debut with Western Edge, said she’s looking forward to “welcoming folks back into the dynamic, electric world of the theatre once again.”
“What we found upon restarting rehearsals was a new depth of understanding for the nuanced emotions of this play and for some, the newfound relatability,” she said in an email. “On the one hand, it felt like we jumped right back into where we had left off and yet, themes of grief, transition, memory and isolation had new meaning in the context of our ‘new’ world.”
Hamilton said there’s a lot of comedy in the characters’ differences, but the story cleverly highlights a lot of their similarities as well. She said the play covers topics like memory, grief, death and how to deal with the past.
“Both main characters – Vera the grandmother and Leo the grandson – are working through those things in their own way throughout the show and … we see a lot of similarities in who they are and how their family dynamic works on both ends of the spectrum,” she said. “So, they both very much will speak their minds about politics and arts and these kinds of things but they’re both incredibly passive-aggressive when it comes to other certain things, so it’s fun.”
Hamilton said there are many plays about family but 4000 Miles is different in that Leo and Vera’s other family members are mentioned but never appear. She describes the play as a particularly unique “slice of life.”
“It’s this large generational gap in these two people that don’t really know each other that well and yet they’re finding this common ground and these connections,” she said. “I find family history really interesting and ancestry in terms of how it informs how we live through the world and I hope that people take that from it and perhaps how that influences their own life and their relationships with their own family.”
WHAT’S ON … Western Edge Theatre presents 4000 Miles at the OV Arts Centre, 25 Victoria Rd., on Nov. 26 and 27 and Dec. 2, 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $12 to $25, available online from Western Edge.