The world premiere of Quiara Alegría Hudes’ “26 Miles,” premiering at The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, presents the story of young Olivia’s broken family, her isolation, and the repair of her relationship with her father and mother.
Fifteen-year-old Olivia lives with her father, Aaron, and step-mother, who both are too self-involved to listen to her needs. After making herself sick, Olivia calls her mother, Beatriz, whom she hasn’t heard from or seen in nine years. The two plan to go for a short drive but end up taking a road trip from Pennsylvania to Wyoming. Her parents come to know precocious Olivia through the small magazine she self-publishes and through her journal, which describe her analyses of her life experiences.
The trip allows mother and daughter to finally get to know and love one another, and the father to appreciate his daughter once she returns. It also gives space to Beatriz’s relationship with her boyfriend, Manuel, who sees during her absence how much he needs her.
The set design, by Kat Conley, is simple and effective. So lifelike is her backdrop of projection images that during the Yellowstone Park scene a woman in the audience gasped and flinched when an elk seemed to suddenly dart in front of Beatriz’s car.
While all the acting is good, the highlight of the show is watching Olivia, portrayed by Bethany Anne Lind. Although her voice and body language portray a character much younger than a teenager, she brings every moment to life in a truthful and interesting manner.
Hudes’ plays have been performed around the nation. Her musical “In the Heights” won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical and her play “Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
“26 Miles” runs through April 12.