Walking to Waldheim” features a strong cast and sensitive directing, but we’ve seen its dimensionless, stereotypical family members before. An interesting premise — family members dying one by one during a car trip — with zingy, frenetic dialogue soon sours into a kvetchfest that never fulfills its promise.
Picture six of your least favorite relatives on a car trip to bury grandmother. As they ride, they have “cemetery talk,” discussing who wants various items and appliances from the deceased’s apartment. They also enjoy berating the driver’s abilities and sense of direction.
Then, they start dropping like flies.
Grandma’s husband, Eddie (Stanislaw K. Cybulski), follows her in death, so they discuss if his rent-controlled apartment should remain in the family. The two adult children, Zelda (Gail Johnston) and Ralph (J. David Krassner), can barely endure this kind of discussion.
Playwright Mayo Simon’s dialogue begins buoyantly but veers off into midsize, cliched laughs. Colorful family members become bland and beige. The result is as entertaining as a funeral.
Grandson Ralph will die next. Krassner does an exemplary job, trying to bring dimension to the underwritten character.
Helen Lambros, as Mina, gives a delicate portrayal as the overbearing wife who calls her husband Mr. Goldblatt. Fredric Cook brings warmth and believability to Hyman, who hasn’t spoken to his wife in years because he doesn’t want to interrupt.
Director Richard Hochberg uses the sparse stage, along with music, to create a timeless, at times surreal world.