The emotional reaction created by watching good theatre, that ‘ goosebumps moment; the shiver down the spine that comes from being thoroughly entertained is to be treasured and with Lonely Planet this is instant. The first 45 minutes grabs your attention as the does the second act. This two hander is acting at its finest, where the energetic enthusiasm of the actors is completely mesmerising, powerful stuff.
There is a line in the Bacharach & David song A House is not a Home, ‘ A chair is still a chair even if there is no one sitting there’. In Steven Dietz’s beautifully written play Lonely Planet that line is given a stunning significance as it is used as a very provocative metaphor due to the fact that Carl played with sardonic flair by Aaron Vodovoz collects chairs from his friends homes that have died from Aids, The chair is his reminder of that person. He laments ‘i’ve buried 30 people in 6 months’ as statistic that was frightening to comprehend in the early 80’s. The play is set in a slightly run down map shop owned by Jody played with a rather haunting grasp of the role by Alexander McMorran who wants nothing but stability in life and with his friendship with Carl blossoms his world is turned upside down as day after day he brings more and more chairs into the shop that soon becomes overcrowded with the furniture. Both actors deliver speeches direct to the audience that adds such intensity to the play that when fear of the truth become an integral part of the plot you can’t take your eyes off the individual actor or when they are on stage together. Dietz has also woven into his script a ‘Woody Allen ‘ style of comedy that is so tinged with humility and wit that the fact that he is making such an acute comment on the Aids epidemic is easily understood.This is a luminescent and layered story about friendship, mental confusion and coming to terms with a situation you find your self in that is not of your making. Dietz gives the audience a happy ending as two candles are put against a picture of the Earth as seen in space , re-inforcing that we are a lonely planet in the solar system but at the same time that comfort and solace can be found. As the house lights dimmed as the play came to an end you would find it hard not to be affected by a play that Ian Brown the director has done magical things with, A stunning tour de force by two actors at the top of their game.
5 stars, runs to the 15th July, Tabard Theatre, 2 Bath Road, Chiswick,London W4 1LW Box office 020 8995 6035 www.tabardtheatre.co.uk