Reviewed – 15th June 2018
“David Allen’s intricate set design results in a space that is both intimately charming and frustratingly cluttered”
As part of Pride in London Festival 2018, Trafalgar Studios hosts the UK premiere production of Steven Dietz’s most widely performed work, Lonely Planet. The story follows the unlikely friendship between two men, Jody and Carl, in an unidentified city in 1980s America as they struggle with the disease that is beginning to decimate their community, AIDS.
The entirety of the play takes place in Jody’s map shop, full to the brim with an array of furniture, maps (of course), and a whole host of miscellaneous items. David Allen’s intricate set design results in a space that is both intimately charming and frustratingly cluttered, beautifully projecting the key metaphors embedded within the original text.
Both Alexander McMorran (Jody) and Aaron Vodovoz (Carl) bring the unusual friendship between both characters to life with a wealth of charisma and chemistry together. Whilst the underlying story within the play takes time to unfold, McMorran and Vodovoz waste no time in establishing their characters that quickly become familiar to the audience. This, in combination with the detailed set, hooks the viewer into the text emotionally despite the lengthy plot development. Whilst taking place in the 1980s, this production of Lonely Planet strives to highlight the parallels of stigmatisation regarding AIDS both then and today.
Throughout the limited run of the show, and building-up to London Pride, a weekly Q&A session is being held straight after the show with prominent figures in the movement sharing their experiences with AIDS. The Lonely Planet Speaker Series began with Jonathan Blake, an actor, activist and one of the first people to be diagnosed with HIV in the UK. This series, sponsored by Pasante and INSTI self-test kit displays how this particular run is so much more than simply the production alone.
Reviewed by Claire Minnitt
Photography by Richard Hubert Smith
Trafalgar Studios until 7th July
Previously reviewed at this venue