PORT TOWNSEND — Amy Herzog’s “4,000 Miles” opens at the Key City Playhouse at 7:30 tonight.
The play explores human interaction and communication, said director Connor Zaft, who describes it as a “dramedy,” a combination of drama and comedy.
“ ‘4,000 Miles’ is, at its core, about people — about who we are in the small spaces, about how we heal through connecting with others [and] about how we grow, adapt and adjust to constraints life places on us mentally, physically and emotionally,” Zaft said.
Tickets are $24 and are available at www.keycity publictheatre.org or at the playhouse box office at 419 Washington St. A preview was staged Thursday.
“I think there is always a magic on opening night,” Zaft said, inviting the public to the show.
“The actors are always facing their first audience, ostensibly — at least their first official audience. There is a certain buzz in the air I find mystifying.”
And, because it is the first official performance, “there is something special and exclusive to that,” Zaft continued.
After tonight’s performance, “4,000 Miles” will run Thursdays through Sundays for three weekends, ending Oct. 23
Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., with a 2:30 p.m. curtain for Sunday matinees.
Ticket prices are $20 for Thursdays and Sundays, and $24 for Fridays and Saturdays.
Pay-what-you-wish performances, sponsored by the Port Townsend Arts Commission, are slated for Oct. 9 and 13.
In the play, generational gaps create tension between 21-year-old Leo Joseph-Connell — portrayed by Anthony Lee Phillips — and his feisty grandmother, Vera Joseph — a member of the Communist Party portrayed by Diane Thrasher.
Rounding out the cast in this four-person production is Maggie Buckley as Bec and Laura Dux as Amanda.
After suffering a major loss while he was on a cross-country bike trip, Leo seeks solace from his grandmother in her West Village apartment in New York City.
Leo is left standing on the porch after traveling all this way to see the no-nonsense 91-year-old matron because she is unable to hear the doorbell.
When Vera finally comes to the door, Leo cannot understand her because she is not wearing her dentures.
These failures of communication are the perfect introduction to the relationships that Herzog explores in her play, according to Christopher Clow, marketing director for Key City Public Theatre.
“It’s a story that really goes to the heart of relationships that spans across generations,” Clow said.
“It spans across lifestyles. It spans across the divide between rural and urban people. It is a play that has a very uplifting message at the heart of it.”
The play explores people who are flawed and at times hard to like but also in need of being vulnerable in the most painfully human ways possible, Zaft said.
“I think really what the show brings out of both its main characters is this desperate need for compassion, for empathy and for another person to lean on,” he said.
“Part of the tragedy — in moments of the play — is their refusal to ask for it. I think part of this show talks about how a person learns both how to empathize and to give compassion, but also how to ask for it and to admit that someone needs it.”
Those are both “learned skills,” Zaft continued, “and you don’t learn them until you have to, and it can be painful.”
The play debuted off-Broadway in June 2011.
It won the 2012 Obie Award for the Best New American Play, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2013 and was named the No. 1 New Play or Musical of 2012 by Time magazine.
For more information, call 360-385-KCPT (5278).
Features Editor Chris McDaniel can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at cmcdaniel@ peninsuladailynews.com.