The specter of AIDS haunts Steven Dietz's Lonely Planet -- and yet the disease is never mentioned by name. But it is AIDS causing the play's lead character Jody to get so wrapped up in his safe world of maps, he has mostly shut out the vastly more complicated real world. What good are maps if not used as guides to a better land, or a better life? That's the central symbolic question of Dietz's richly evocative play, which dates to 1994. Alexandria's MetroStage now offers a charming, understated production of Lonely Planet directed by Woolly Mammoth's John Vreeke and starring Michael Russotto as Jody and Eric Sutton as Carl. Both actors are superb, playing the two gay characters as best friends, arguing over details of everyday life. Eventually, and certainly by the second act, the play and its message come into focus. MetroStage is to be commended for staging a play that's a bit of a challenge both to describe and to find a target audience. Here's to gay people, as well as those directly affected by AIDS (or even cancer), finding this on the map before it closes the weekend after Capital Pride. To June 17. MetroStage, 1201 North Royal St. Alexandria. Tickets are $45 to $50. Call 800-494-8497 or visit metrostage.org. Mention Metro Weekly when ordering and your tickets are half price.
Reviewed by Doug Rule.
Also see Metro Weekly’s interview with the playwright.