Carpenter Square Theatre presents play about intergenerational relationships 

click to enlarge 4000 Miles 0755a:  After Leo (David BurkhartI) has spent a couple of weeks with his Grandma Vera (Lana Henson), they are finally able to relax and share some laughs in a scene from "4000 Miles.” Amy Herzog’s comedy-drama about a young man who arrives unexpectedly at his grandmother’s New York City apartment after a harrowing cross-county bike trip from Seattle, plays at Carpenter Square Theatre May 13-June 4 at 800 W. Main in downtown Oklahoma City.  This Oklahoma premiere was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize, and garnered the 2012 Obie Award for Best New Play, as well as Time Magazine’s #1 Play of 2012.  For information, visit www.carpentersquare.com. For tickets, call 405-232-6500.
  • 4000 Miles 0755a: After Leo (David BurkhartI) has spent a couple of weeks with his Grandma Vera (Lana Henson), they are finally able to relax and share some laughs in a scene from "4000 Miles.” Amy Herzog’s comedy-drama about a young man who arrives unexpectedly at his grandmother’s New York City apartment after a harrowing cross-county bike trip from Seattle, plays at Carpenter Square Theatre May 13-June 4 at 800 W. Main in downtown Oklahoma City. This Oklahoma premiere was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize, and garnered the 2012 Obie Award for Best New Play, as well as Time Magazine’s #1 Play of 2012. For information, visit www.carpentersquare.com. For tickets, call 405-232-6500.

An award-winning play written by one of the country’s most promising young playwrights graces the stage at Carpenter Square Theatre, 806 W. Main St., through June 4.

4000 Miles, a comedy-drama written by acclaimed playwright Amy Herzog, has been a critical darling since its Broadway debut four years ago. It was named Time magazine’s No. 1 play of 2012, was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won a 2012 Obie Award for best new play. Herzog also was named Outstanding Playwright of the Year in 2012 by The New York Times.

The story centers on Leo, a rudderless young hippy on a coast-to-coast bicycle trip. He broke up with his girlfriend, is estranged from his family and just lost his best friend to a tragic accident. Exhausted and grieving at the end of his journey, Leo decides to stop in New York City’s West Village and crash with his elderly grandmother Vera, a lifelong political activist.

Despite their obvious differences, the odd roommates connect with each other over the course of a month, and 4000 Miles becomes a poignant portrait of a cross-generational relationship.

Like so many writers, Herzog said she leans heavily on her own family members as inspiration for her play’s characters. Leo was based on a cousin who lost a close friend, and Vera was based on her grandmother Leepee Joseph, a celebrated left-wing Big Apple activist and theatrical assistant known for passing out leaflets in Union Square well into her 90s.

Herzog said several of Vera’s lines were her grandmother’s, word-for-word.

“I never recorded my grandmother, but some of these stories I heard so many times, I knew them verbatim,” she said.

She also pulled stories from her own life. When she was younger, she took a similar cross-country bike trip, ending with a ride across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

“My trip was less fraught than Leo’s,” Herzog said. “The bike I used on that trip was actually used as a prop in the Lincoln Center production of 4000 Miles. I think the bike is still at the theater, which gives you an idea of how much I use it.”

Embellishments aside, critics love Herzog’s writing. She has been praised for “being willing to take on ideas and history,” and her dialogue was described by acclaimed playwright Richard Nelson as “clean, simple, evocative and witty.”

“It’s alive and easily spoken. Very, very actable,” Nelson said. “That’s a given talent.”

The local crew charged with bringing Herzog’s script to life is led by director and costume designer Rhonda Clark. David Burkhart and Lana Henson star as Leo and Vera, and the small cast is rounded out by Stevie Michelle Aycock (Leo’s girlfriend) and Lanchi Le (a party girl Leo brings home one night).

4000 Miles is supported in part by Oklahoma Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and Allied Arts.

Reservations are recommended for the intimate 90-seat theater. Call 405-232-6500 or email csttix@coxinet.net for tickets. Visit carpentersquare.com.

Print headline: Historic travels, Carpenter Square Theatre presents a dramatic comedy gleaned from life experiences.

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