You don’t come across a lot of relationship dramas centered on a grandson and his grandmother. But Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles, onstage at ion theatre in Hillcrest, is just that. Self-absorbed and self-suffering Leo (Connor Sullivan) is not going to get it together unless cranky but sage Grandma Vera (Jill Drexler) teaches him a few hardscrabble life lessons. Leo is kind of a tool, whining (or exploding) so much that you almost don’t feel sorry for him because his best friend was killed while the two were bicycling across America, or because his nervous girlfriend Bec (Michelle Marie Trester) has dumped him. But when he crashes at his kin’s NYC flat, her no-B.S grandparenting begins to humanize him.
For a 90-minute one-act play, the narrative is over-packed (Vera was a “Commie”! Leo kissed his sister!), but 4000 Miles, directed at ion by Claudio Raygoza, is absorbing and except for one scene that’s played out in the dark with Leo sobbing to Grandma, not soapy. Drexler is excellent, rising above her Sofia Petrillo (from “Golden Girls”) wig and a hearing aid that wouldn’t stay in, Yumi Roussin is a crackup as a party girl in platforms whom Leo wants to bed, and the cozy apartment set is as meticulous as you’ll ever see at ion.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat