So there is teenage Eva (Jacqueline Guillén), bursting into tears on a prom night gone wrong, wanting so badly the solace of her mother (Maria Elena Ramirez), but having only her sweetly bumbling father (a terrifically winning Triney Sandoval) to drive her home.
There is Eva’s little brother, Aaron (Tyler Alvarez), morphing from a tender, kindhearted boy into a man with a military-macho carapace. And there is her big brother, Christian (Bobby Moreno), stalked by terror that his life will disintegrate — that his American wife and the American family they made will have to do without him.
Moreno is a fine actor, but Christian, when we first meet him, is just 23. Moreno, who is married to Bettis, looks at least a decade older — a distraction that makes you wonder how old Christian was when he got here and how he could have been pre-verbal then. It also throws off the intended dynamic between him and his siblings, particularly in a scene that dips into sentiment, calling back to the blanket forts and hot strawberry milk of their shared childhood.
That moment, like a too-prophetic line that Billy speaks in early 2016 (“With a new president on the horizon, who knows what the laws will look like”), is an indulgence in a play that is otherwise thoughtful and restrained. Its power is in its simplicity, and in the vividly average Americanness of its characters.
To its credit, “72 Miles” doesn’t go where you might think it will, but it does eventually bring us to Anita, with her family, in the flesh. And if that reunion is staged a little awkwardly, we are nonetheless awfully glad to see her. Over the phone, we’ve grown to know her voice so well.
72 Miles To Go…
Through May 3 at the Laura Pels Theater, Manhattan; 212-719-1300, roundabouttheatre.org. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes.