When Leo Joseph-Connell suffers a major loss while he was on a cross-country bike trip, he seeks solace from his feisty grandmother Vera Joseph in her West Village apartment. Leo's and Vera's Marxism represents the state, Tyson represents the corporation, and the characters represent the individual. Leo proves to have anti-heroic attributes - a taste for peyote-intoxicated kissing and drunken promiscuity. All main characters except for Vera are foulmouthed. Leo attempts to maintain his relationships with Marxism and the individual, which gradually proves futile. In the end, he is a marginalized, alienated loner in an advanced technological dystopia where daily life is impacted by rapid technological change and a ubiquitous data sphere of computerized information that carries a videophone call. Judging by Vera and Leo infuriating and bewildering each other, both have some anti-heroic/annoying attributes. Of his relationships, there is only Vera - and employment.
Herzog used her grandmother's "words, habits and history to fashion the character of Vera Joseph".
- Leo Joseph-Connell – Twenty-one
- Vera Joseph – Ninety-one
- Bec – Twenty-one
- Amanda – Nineteen, Chinese-American
The character of "Vera Joseph" is based on Herzog's grandmother, Leepee. Vera initially appeared in Herzog's play After the Revolution.
Backstage observed that " '4000 Miles' is a bit of a companion piece to 'After the Revolution,' her captivating political family drama... as both plays contain the character of Vera Joseph, a no-nonsense 91-year-old grandmother who's also a member of the Communist Party. Vera is as interesting here as she was in the earlier play, but the story surrounding her is considerably slighter." Leo is based on her cousin who lost a good friend. The "Josephs" in her plays are also partially based on her father's stepfamily.
The play premiered Off-Broadway at the Duke on 42nd Street Theatre, opening on June 20, 2011 and closing on July 9, 2011. The play then ran Off-Broadway at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at the Lincoln Center Theater in March 2012 through June 17, 2012. It was the first play in Lincoln Center Theater's new works program. The play, directed by Daniel Aukin, featured Mary Louise Wilson as Vera and Gabriel Ebert as Leo.
The play was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In a Playbill article on the possible Pulitzer Prize winner, Robert Simonson wrote that 4000 Miles "is a gentle, warm drama... Critics found Herzog's naturalistic tapestry touching, compassionate and authentically felt." The Pulitzer Prize citation reads "a drama that shows acute understanding of human idiosyncrasy as a spiky 91-year-old locks horns with her rudderless 21-year-old grandson who shows up at her Greenwich Village apartment after a disastrous cross-country bike trip."
The play was performed at the Long Wharf Theater (New Haven, Connecticut) opening in February 2014 starring Micah Stock. It was produced by Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, Oregon in April 2015.
The play's Sydney premiere was staged at Australian Theatre for Young People in 2013, produced by MopHead and Catnip Productions. It starred Diana McLean, Stephen Multari, Eloise Snape and Aileen Huynh. The production was critically acclaimed, earning two Sydney Theatre Award nominations and subsequently toured to Brisbane's La Boite Theatre Company in 2014 and completed a national tour in 2016.
The Time magazine reviewer wrote: "Herzog unravels the details slowly, with uncommon narrative skill....Everything about 4000 Miles seems fresh, particularized, plausible....4000 Miles is the family drama that really sticks with you, easily the best play of the season."
John Shand wrote in his review in the Sydney Morning Herald: "If your heart is sick or just needs warming, go and see this play. If you are a baby boomer who doesn't understand your grandchildren or are from Gen Y and, like, really weirded out by your grandparents, go and see this play. If you simply love theatre, go and see this play."
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- Snyder, Diane. "Profile Amy Herzog" Time Out New York , May 31, 2011
- Haagensen, Erik. "Review. '4000 Miles'" backstage.com, June 20, 2011
- Isherwood, Charles. "Theater Review. Young and Old, With No Particular Place to Go" The New York Times, June 20, 2011
- Hetrick, Adam. "Amy Herzog's '4000 Miles', Starring Mary Louise Wilson, Extends Off-Broadway" Playbill, April 4, 2012
- Gans, Andrew. " 'Disgraced' Wins 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama" Playbill, April 15, 2013
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- Gans, Andrew. "'4000 Miles', Gabriel Ebert, Mary Louise Wilson, Linda Lavin, Santino Fontana and More Are Obie Winners" playbill.com, May 21, 2012
- Zoglin, Richard. "Theater" Time Magazine, December 24, 2012
- 4000 Miles Samuel French, Inc, accessed December 2, 2015
- ' 4000 Miles Overview' theatreroyal.org.uk, accessed December 2, 2015
- Gates, Anita. "Theater Review. With Moments of Tenderness and ‘Ungrandmotherliness'" The New York Times, February 28, 2014
- 4000 MIles Artists Repertory Theatre
- Shand, John. "Theatre Reviews. 4000 Miles" Sydney Morning Herald, May 9, 2013, accessed May 12, 2016
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- Zoglin, Richard. " '4000 Miles': The Best Play of the Season, Hands Down" Time, May 15, 2012