A tale of fear, grief and comedy: Lonely Planet review


Philip Krinsky

Tony Newton and Jack Manion as Jody and Carl in lonely planet.

“These people are boring,” Jack Manion as lead character Carl exclaims after storming into Jody’s Maps store.

Although Carl spends a good portion describing how drab and uneventful the people around him are, Carl and Jody are hardly boring people.

The show opens with one setting that is used throughout the entire play: Jody’s Maps. Sitting in the small space of room 307 in the Fine Art’s building is a cash register, a rotary telephone, maps and a chair. Just a green and brown chair.

Tony Newton’s character, Jody, enters the scene and sits down in the chair. He begins to question its existence, wondering why it was placed in his shop.

“Bobby’s dead,” Carl says, clutching the chair.

Jody sighs deeply, now knowing why Carl left the chair in the first place. Progressively, Carl brings in more chairs that belonged to his friends.

“It falls in the canon of LGBT AIDS drama,” Michael Hatton, assistant theater chair said. “But we could change a few words… this could be about Ebola.”

The play centers around the AIDS epidemic that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. However, it was much more than that as it also focused on the grief and fear of the disease as Jody struggles with the idea of having to get tested. This is what causes Jody to rarely, if ever, leave his own shop.

Carl’s struggle lies within coping with his friends’ deaths while also attempting to bring Jody out into the world. Carl begins telling Jody about his weeks as an art restorer, auto glass repair worker and tabloid writer. It’s later said why Carl does all these things.

While Carl shares in his life, he asks Jody to tell him of his dreams.

“Any good dreams?” Carl asks on his visits.

Tony Newton as Jody in Lonely Planet.
Tony Newton as Jody in Lonely Planet.

Throughout the play, Jody conveys how he is really feeling by telling his dreams to Carl. This is when the audience begins to realize the parallels between Jody’s dreams and Carl’s push for Jody to get tested.

While the fear and grief is present, some comedy is introduced to lighten such a heavy mood. Mostly coming from Carl, the comic relief is in every scene. The audience found a good laugh throughout the night.

NKU student, Angela Kaesheimer noted how personal the play was and I have to agree.

“I like the small setting,” Kaesheimer said. “It made the clutter feel more real.”

Although the AIDS epidemic affected much more than just two men, the personalized feel made the experience more meaningful.

“One of the more powerful scripts I’ve read,” Newton said. “With this, it was very personal.”

The Lonely Planet by Steven Dietz was an incredibly moving play directed by NKU student, Clayton Winstead. Winstead chose to do the play after seeing the production four years ago.

“It was one of the first pieces I ever saw,” Winstead said after being asked why he chose this production. “I got swept away… I was blown away by the people and the stories.”

Overall, the play touched on a sensitive subject and was portrayed nicely in the play. I enjoyed the balance of comedy and seriousness regarding the situation. Great job for the 307 Series!

I highly recommend seeing the play this weekend. The play runs until Saturday night.