Eva Le Gallienne is in Baltimore. That fact alone should put theatergoers on the parkway, but this is unfortunately not an opportunity to see the great actress and director, who is now 82, demonstrate the glories of her 65-year-career. In "To Grandmother's House We Go," at the Mechanic Theater, she plays one of those crusty old lady roles that any competent actress could do with both hands tied behind her back.
It's not that Le Gallienne doesn't make a fine crusty old lady. She was nominated for the Tony and New York Drama Desk Awards for this role. But the entire point of the character is only that grandmother surprises people by occasionally acting like an independent adult, instead of a stereotyped grandmother, and this is rather trivial material for a classicist of her stature.
The rest of the play, by Joanna M. Glass, is also trivial, although well-meaning. What it apparently means to say is that people should not be slaves to their family roles, and that the dramatic crises of young adults should not take precedence over the needs of their elders. Another play, "On Golden Pond," said this charmingly. Without charm, and performed by a cast that is, with the exception of the star, undistinguished if not dreary, this one comes out seeming to say that the older generation would do well to imitate the selfishness of the young.
TO GRANDMOTHERS HOUSE WE GO -- At Baltimore's Morris Mechanic Theater through December 26.