The Studio Theater of The Rep has mounted an interesting play about a young man who has dropped out of college and unexpectedly dropped into his widowed Grandmother’s well-ordered life.
Veteran actress Rita Gardner, an original cast member of the fabled, long-running off-Broadway show “The Fantasticks,” is the Grandmother. In her early 90s, she lives in a cozy apartment in New York City and strives every day to combat the challenges of her failing memory and approaching mortality. Gardner is perfect in her performance. She is amiable, believable and wonderfully authentic & loveable.
Much less can be said of Dan McCabe as the Grandson who has just finished a bike safari from Seattle to New York and arrives claiming he’ll only stay for two days. (The audience immediately knows it will be much longer.) McCabe succeeds in demonstrating the selfishness and self-serving sides of the young man he plays. His character is an expert freeloader who easily rationalizes his pointless life.
Even his failed relationship with a longtime love interest, played by Katie McClellan, has all the spark of a wet match when the two meet again in his Grandmother’s apartment, only to find arguing is still their only common ground.
The aspect that is supposed to make “4000 Miles” really work is the gradual change in the Grandson’s maturity level as he lives through the travails of his trip, which also included the accidental death of his best friend. The attempt in the writing is to show how he eventually grows up into a more sensitive and responsible person after the traumas of his recent experiences and relationship, not to mention the patient positive influence of his Grandmother. But McCabe plays his character in a way that never really displays him as anything but momentarily moved off his one-track love affair with himself.
“4000 Miles” will be onstage at The Studio Theater of The Rep through February 3rd.