Like the Tom Hanks film "Philadelphia" and Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning epic drama "Angels in America," Steven Dietz's play "Lonely Planet" is an early-1990s work about life in the shadow of AIDS. Dietz's two-character play is intimate and oblique, with no portrayal of symptoms or sickbeds, not even a mention of the words "AIDS" or "HIV." Instead, we get a highly metaphoric play in which two friends try to cope with the fear and mortality surrounding them. Maps and empty chairs are the chief symbols. One character runs a map shop and is afraid ever to leave it. His strange, mercurial buddy tries to push him out of his shell and for some reason keeps bringing him chairs that come to clutter the store. The themes are developed through symbolic fantasies and dreams, with the serious thrust relieved by a contrasting current of humorous byplay.
Like many of his stand-up comedy peers, Bill Bellamy's resume includes a growing list of acting roles. In Bellamy's case, that includes playing the wide receiver in Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday" and doing the voice of "Skeeter" in Nickelodeon's action- comedy series "Cousin Skeeter." But Bellamy keeps his comedy chops honed with regular stand-up appearances. The Newark, N.J.-born comic prefers to talk about his experiences onstage. "I just do what I know," says Bellamy, whose road to show business began at Rutgers University, where he entered a male beauty pageant and won after showcasing his talent for comedy.