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Notes from the Producer: "Lonely Planet"

(From left): Eric Sutton and Michael Russotto

(From left): Eric Sutton and Michael Russotto

To Go

"Lonely Planet," Steven Dietz’s award-winning play, will be in performance May 10-June 18, Thurs. and Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sun. at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $45-$50. Call 800-494-8497 or visit www.metrostage.org, Groups/Info 703-548-9044. MetroStage is at 1201 North Royal St. Alexandria. Fully accessible, free parking.

You often hear theatre patrons (and producers!) say that a production is everything theatre should be. It is entertaining, yet has an emotional core so that you leave feeling like you have experienced something that has entertained yet enriched. It has taken you out of your immediate life experience and allowed you for an hour or two to view a collection of characters with a story to tell — a story separate from your own but with a universality that leaves you with insight and a sensitivity to life’s greatest challenges. MetroStage strives to offer this experience in all its many genres to its patrons each and every time.

It certainly happened most recently with "Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You!," when the brilliant Jay Alvarez told the story of his family’s escape from Cuba in 1964. Audiences left breathless from the experience as Jay described the challenge of escaping while under the watchful eye of the ruling Castro regime. Even though we knew that they escaped because he was standing before us almost 40 years later, we were moved to tears by the commitment of his father to pursuing a better life for his family. Many patrons remained afterwards in the lobby and (over mojitos) stories were shared both by the many Cubans who came to the show but also the Russians, Armenians, and so many others, whose families had escaped oppression. It was an extraordinary opportunity for theatre to provide an enriching experience that was very specific to a moment in time yet universal.

This week we open "Lonely Planet," Steven Dietz, a remarkable play that is entertaining, emotionally powerful, lyrical, and literary in that Dietz used Ionesco’s absurdist style and his play, "The Chairs," as a metaphor for the situation being depicted in the story. And then there are the maps. Dietz is admittedly obsessed with maps so "Lonely Planet" takes place in a map store (you will leave the theatre knowing a lot more about the Greenland problem and the Mercator map — did I mention it was also educational?!) "Lonely Planet" is an exquisite play that will unfold before your eyes as it entertains, enriches, and touches your emotional core — just what theatre was meant to do. Afterwards you will definitely want to read a little Ionesco, and you might even look at maps a little differently in the future.

"Lonely Planet" runs through June 17 at MetroStage. Call 703-548-9044 for more information or go to www.metrostage.org .