4000 Miles

7 May

Bad plays are hyperbole. Good plays are metaphor. (And, yes, generalizations are annoying.)

And the best metaphors are underplayed. They’re not allegories, but something more subtle and gentle.

We say plays are good

– and this one is. Very. And the production is superb. The cast is uniformly brilliant. And Anthony Skuse, once again, has shown he’s a magnificent director. As an example, the pacing of this piece is enough to make you fall in love with time. Like Philip Rouse’s The Ham Funeral, I’d see this production again purely to enjoy the director’s work; which is, of course, a ridiculous thing to say –

but, anyway, we often say plays are good, without saying how they were good for us.

I don’t mean on what personal basis we judge them to be good, but rather what good they do us.

Good plays help us. We leave the theatre richer than we entered it.


4000 Miles is a play that offers the gift of tolerance.

Tolerance is sometimes devalued as a virtue; as though it was the poor little cousin of Love. Tolerance seems somehow less passionate, less committed, less generous. But watch four brilliant actors (Diana McLean, Stephen Multari, Eloise Snape and Aileen Huynh) create characters who gently navigate their differences, and Tolerance becomes Love’s twin.

I began by praising metaphor. The old argument is that good plays, by taking a specific situation and presenting them simply, honestly and unadorned, are suggestive of much wider issues.

Amy Herzog’s play is beautifully rich in this type of metaphor.

But it’s also rich in another type, more literary, but subtle. I won’t discuss most of these for fear of spoilers, but I will mention one.

Diana McLean plays Vera, Leo’s grandmother. Vera is what she calls a political progressive. (Just to hear those words on an Australian stage is a delight!) Vera is ageing; she is losing her hearing, she is losing her memory. Sometimes she doesn’t have the words for things, for her political ideas.

But Vera still tries to find them. And still tries to act on them.

And that task isn’t just Vera’s.

Veronica Kaye

4000 Miles by Amy Herzog

until 18 May


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