UK Premiere of Lonely Planet to Be Held at Tabard Theatre

Steven Dietz's play deals with the advent of HIV in the eighties

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It’s the 1980’s in an unknown American city. There is no internet and mobile phones are a rarity, sharing information and knowledge is near impossible. It’s dark, and communication is hard. A poster appears at a local store, it’s a photo of a person’s torso with lesions all over. It’s an unknown condition that spreads quickly.

This was how people became aware of an unknown virus which ended up quietly and quickly killing vast amounts of people in the gay community, including Jody and Carl’s friends. The medical world barely knows what it is and how it gets passed around, let alone the people themselves. The only moment you understand you’ve contracted this disease is when it’s just too late. Within a climate of social stigma, isolation and governmental neglect how would you react if you thought you might have a life threatening disease? Would you want to know, or would you prefer to stay oblivious and isolate yourself? Would you feel comfortable walking down the same streets you once knew like the back of your hand but now only remind you of friends who are sick or passed away?

Lonely Planet focuses on the friendship between Jody, a cautious and thoughtful man who insulates himself in the map store he owns; and Carl, a frequent visitor to the store with an unusually vivid imagination and multiple, ever-changing occupations. Carl notices Jody has been isolating himself from the world and starts bringing chairs into his shop to convince him to confront the fears which prevent him from leaving his store. The play shows an individual’s struggle to come to terms with illness, their own mortality and the stigma associated with AIDS.

Lonely Planet originally premiered in Northlight Theatre, Illinois in 1993. Considered his widely performed work, this production marks its UK premiere from award-winning playwright Steven Dietz, recently placed eighth on the list of the Top Ten Most Produced Playwrights in America, equal to Edward Albee and Tennessee Williams.

Ian Brown, former Artistic Director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, will be directing the play

The play runs from Tuesday 27 June to Saturday 15 July 2017 at 7.30pm at the Tabard Theatre. Tickets which can be bought online are £20 or £18 for concessions (there will be £10 tickets for the first two performances).

The box office can be contacted on 020 8995 6035 or

There will also be a series of Lonely Planet post-show sessions. These will last approximately half an hour and are free to attend after the show.

Friday 30 June – Jonathan Blake

HIV-positive activist Jonathan will talk about his experience being diagnosed with HIV in 1982. Jonathan’s was the first ever diagnosis at the Middlesex Hospital, and one of the first in the UK. Even though he was told he would only survive 3 months, Jonathan has been living with HIV for 35 years. He was portrayed by Dominic West in the recent BAFTA award winning ‘Pride’, a film based on his activism with the ‘Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners’ alliance.

Tuesday 4 July – Dr Mike Youle, Michael Brady and Yusef Azad

Three medical professionals and policy makers, who will discuss the ongoing stigma of a HIV/AIDS diagnosis, the medical advances that have been made since the 80s epidemic, and the future of modern treatment.

Dr Mike Youle – doctor and clinical researcher – qualified in 1984 and specialises in HIV treatment. Mike is one of the founders of the Kobler Clinic at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, the earliest specialist centre combining HIV care and research in the UK.

Dr Michael Brady is the medical director at the Terrence Higgins Trust, a Sexual Health and HIV consultant at Kings College Hospital, the Clinical Lead of the South East London Sexual Health Network and Principal Investigator at Kings for the PROUD study on pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

Yusef Azad is the Director of Strategy for the Policy & Campaigns team at the National Aids Trust.

Friday 7 July – Dr Christian Jessen

Doctor, writer and presenter Dr Christian Jessen will discuss the importance of HIV testing and fighting stigma. Dr Christian holds a MSc degree in sexual health, and has a particular interest in HIV and Malaria studies, which were the focus of his work in Kenya and Uganda. He is the Medical Advisor and weekly health column writer for the Evening Standard and is best known for his charity work and for presenting the Channel 4 programmes ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ and ‘Supersize vs Superskinny’.

Tuesday 11 July – Angus Pelletier

The final post show discussion will be by Angus Pelletier. After being diagnosed with HIV in 1987, Angus was given just six months to live. Thirty years later Angus shares his memories from the time of his diagnosis with our Lonely Planet audience.

June 20, 2017

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