Taking a "Dive" at Metrostage

Taking a "Dive" at Metrostage

Leslie Ayvazian is that rare thing: an actor who gives up all the best lines.

Ayvazian, a New York actor and playwright, brings her one-woman show “High Dive” to MetroStage through Feb. 9. But it’s not really a one-woman show. Instead, Ayvazian presses roughly three dozen audience members into service.

As she reflects on turning 50, Ayvazian looks back 25 years or more, and audience members respond as her husband, her mother-in-law, her son, Peter Lawford or Mickey Rooney.

Ayvazian spends most of the show’s 75 minutes talking about her own history, a history that might be better suited to a show called “Natural Disasters.” She tells of travel catastrophes, tornadoes and hurricanes she’s known, and a particularly gruesome motorcycle accident that leaves her, on the cusp of turning 50, stranded on a Greek high dive.

Through all stories, time and again, Ayvazian takes five minutes telling a story, setting the scene and the circumstances, only to hand the punchline to one of her impromptu collaborators.

She enjoys the results, too. “High Dive” has made the rounds of small theaters since 1999, but four years later, when Metrostage audience members summon up an especially lively “Yahoo,” or a deadpan line reading, Ayvazian laughs along with the audience.

Still, the burden of the show rests on Ayvazian’s shoulders, and she bears up under the weight. Time spent in the theater ends up feeling like time spent talking to a fascinating aquaintance at a cocktail party.

Ayvazian’s tales may meander, but they’re not pointless, and digressions don’t make her stories any less pithy.

Where & When

“High Dive” runs through Feb. 9 at Metrostage, 1201 N. Royal St. Performaces are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, and 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Tickets are $30-35. More information is available online at www.metrostage.org, or by calling 703-548-9044. Tickets are available online at www.tickets.com, or by calling 703-218-6500.