The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

We all need reminders about how to act in this world, courses in diversity, training in anti-discrimination, how to be politically correct in speech and actions. A small town in New Jersey gets the real deal in one Leonard Pelkey, a young teenager who was not afraid to be true to himself. In a one man play by James Lecesne, we meet Leonard through his acts and deeds, even though he does not appear in person. He can’t. Leonard Pelkey is dead. The question is why and how and could it have been prevented?

Square One Theatre Company in Stratford is tackling this challenging and ambitious drama with Alexander Kulcsar playing all the parts in “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” weekends until Sunday, May 20. Kulcsar is fascinating as he becomes all the characters in Leonard’s life, the town’s people who embraced his colorful persona and the mean-spirited ones who could not understand or chose not to understand his unique ways. Leonard was gay and shone with his special brightness wherever he traveled, whether to visit the clock repair man or the head of the town’s school of dance.

Leonard made his own rainbow sneakers and wore them with pride. In the theatrical world, he sparkled. He was his own fashion statement and helped other townspeople discover their own palette of color sense. Unfortunately he paid a terrible price for being different.

The story is told principally by a detective who is told by a mother and daughter who care for Leonard that he is missing. In his investigation, the detective discovers the unique heart and soul of the boy, how many people he touched and the evil that destroyed him. What might Leonard have accomplished if his life hadn’t been cut short? Leonard’s life lessons are worthy of learning.

“The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” is an extraordinary story telling feat that director Tom Holehan presents as a theatrical gift to the audience. Kulcsar plays New Jersey shore detective Chuck DiSantis and everyone else in Leonard’s world.

For tickets ($20, seniors $19), call Square One Theatre, 719 Birdseye Street, Stratford at 203-375-8778 or online at www.squareonetheatre.com. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come discover why Leonard has disappeared so mysteriously and who is to blame for robbing the world of his rainbow hued brightness.

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