Arts theater review

Lonely Planet review

“We will leave some traces, for we are people and not cities” – Eugene Ionesco

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Michael Kaye (left) and Tim Spears (right) in 'Lonely Planet.'
Andrew Brilliant

Lonely Planet 
Written by Steven Dietz 
Directed by Jim Petosa  
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Feb. 3 – Mar. 4 

From the very start of the play, you can tell that something special is going to come from the intense chemistry between Jody (Michael Kaye) and Carl (Tim Spears). Their relationship is the highlight of Lonely Planet. Even while the story trudges at times, their bond is something to behold. Through both acts, their friendship serves as a beautiful testament for how people are able to change one another.

Lonely Planet tells a bittersweet story, set in the height of the AIDS pandemic, of Carl’s attempt to persuade Jody to leave the comfort of his map shop to get tested. All throughout Petosa’s production, Carl tries to show that there is a world bigger than the pieces of paper that have surrounded Jody his entire life. He primarily does so by telling outlandish stories of his day job and by bringing in chairs. And does this character have a fancy for chairs.

Theatre productions tend to experiment with the way they incorporate space into the story, whether that be through the way the stage is built or even how it’s lit. This production is one of the most unique I’ve seen so far, for a gigantic arch of chairs has been erected on the stage. As we later find out, Carl has been bringing Jody chairs for quite a while now for no apparent reason. In lighter moments, the arch brings levity to the stage. In darker ones, the arch seems to entrap the characters themselves.

Kaye plays the role of Jody wonderfully, capturing him with such a quiet power that it’s very easy to get absorbed in his acting. The real star, though, would have to be Spears. Carl is a complicated character filled with peaks of hilarious insanity as well as valleys of grave seriousness. However, Spears does this character justice, giving him the layers that this performance needs. One moment, he’ll have you doubling over in laughter from his jokes. Another, he’ll have you rubbing the tears, which have mysteriously appeared, from your eyes.

These layers prove to be jarring at times as Lonely Planet leap-frogs from a very existential monologue delivered by Spears to a sword fight between the two men. In the end, this production proves to be a very influential production that asks a lot of its audience. I walked away from that theater with tears in my eyes, and lingering sorrow of Carl in my mind.

The chairs would later be revealed to have a more significant meaning than I could ever have expected. It’s the little things in life that we will remembered by. This is what Lonely Planet shares. As the light dims down on stage, you’re left with questions cluttering your mind.

Who notices when you’re gone? Will someone leave a chair for you?