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The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Entertaining
84
Critics
76
28 reviews
Members
87
51 reviews
 

Award-winning storyteller James Lecesne's solo show about a small Jersey Shore town where a young boy goes missing.

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In 'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pekley,' Lecesne takes on every character in a small Jersey shore town, where Leonard, an optimistic and flamboyant 14-year-old, goes missing. He becomes an unexpected inspiration as the town’s citizens reflect upon his life, their interactions with him, and come to question their own lifestyles.

 

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Reviews (79)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
76
Avg Score

60
Theatermania

"Exquisitely acted, beautifully written, and thoroughly facile new solo play...The story is as sympathetic as it is predictable, leaving the viewer with the hollow feeling of having one's beliefs reinforced, but not challenged...It's just not adding much to the conversation. A writer and performer as transfixing as Lescene has the ability to challenge us to dig much deeper." Full Review

70
New York Post

"Lecesne delivers a message of acceptance without being preachy. Intimate and affectionate, 'Absolute Brightness' is about the difference one person can make — and perhaps, with any luck, one show." Full Review

75
Variety

"Not all of the characters are convincing, but what they have to say about Leonard is very interesting, indeed...Although we never actually meet Leonard but come to know him from the fond memories of his neighbors, he seems very much alive." Full Review

60
Time Out New York

"The antibullying message is beyond reproach, and it pulls heartstrings successfully. But the characters are familiar and often bluntly drawn, and the central mystery lacks depth and suspense. A blend of 'Law & Order,' 'The Laramie Project' and 'Encyclopedia Brown,' the play does not sprout far enough beyond its teen-lit roots." Full Review

60
The Hollywood Reporter

"There's so much to admire about 'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey' that one practically feels guilty for not liking it more. James Lecesne's solo play is clearly a labor of love, and the writer-actor, playing nearly a dozen characters, delivers a tour-de-force performance. But for all its good intentions, the piece feels thin and formulaic." Full Review

45
New York Magazine / Vulture

"There’s not much mystery here, nor much drama of any other sort. Instead, we get a series of amusing if sometimes too cute impersonations of people...If the play weren’t so sincere, you’d have to laugh. As it is, you simply disengage from the story, refocusing on the technique. And though Lecesne is an experienced storyteller, the genre needs more than mimicry to achieve expressiveness." Full Review

85
New York Theater

"'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey' is a showcase for the impressive theatrical talents of James Lecesne...'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey' is no more believable a portrait than that of the saintly Jimmy Stewart character in 'It’s A Wonderful Life.' Keep in mind, that’s a movie with a similar simple, sentimental message – everybody’s life has meaning and worth – that people watch every year." Full Review

40
The Huffington Post

"As a showcase for Lecesne, 'The Absolute Brightness Of Leonard Pelkey' succeeds...As a piece of theater, unfortunately, it fails. The story is cliched, the characters thin and literally nothing that happens truly comes alive or surprises." Full Review

70
Theatre's Leiter Side

"Because Mr. Lecesne is able to sharply differentiate each character with barely any help from props or costuming, his performance is undeniably a tour de force of acting versatility...But, apart from Mr. Lecesne’s display of his considerable mimic gifts, 'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey' might be described as moderately, not absolutely, bright." Full Review

90
New York Daily News

"COLORFUL CHARACTERS spill out of James Lecesne, like the door to central casting...Each plays a role in Lecesne’s engrossing and touching one-man work...Lecesne crafts an airtight 75-minute story about tolerance, evil and legacy...'Leonard Pelkey' is streaked with darkness, but Lecesne shines bright." Full Review

85
NorthJersey.com

"Lecesne's impersonations are confident, persuasive and amusing, although sometimes a character has a line that makes a bid for a laugh at the expense of believability...It might well be that all these things are beside the point for Lecesne. His play is less about Leonard than about his impact." Full Review

90
Theater Pizzazz

"James Lecesne is a fascinating compilation of talent in this solo show...Lecesne has a special aptitude for morphing genuinely into the various characters he portrays with ease, wit and a serious intent that make his points vivid and meaningful...Lecesne’s message rings loud and truthfully. Directed with great precision by Tony Speciale." Full Review

90
Financial Times (UK)

"James Lecesne is that rare actor: he can play men and women with equal believability. His dexterousness is on ample display in 'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,' a solo show that Lecesne adapted from his 2008 young-adult novel, and in which he performs. In both its simplicity and its storytelling, this 75-minute evening shines." Full Review

95
Towleroad

"A funny, heartrending and utterly inspiring solo show...The production is refreshingly simple, with minimal set and props...The show’s mystery setup draws the audience in from the outset, as does its humor....More captivating than unraveling what happened to Leonard is marveling at the deep impressions he’s left on others." Full Review

90
CurtainUp

"'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelke'y should be on your short list of Off-Broadway plays to be seen this summer. It is an absorbing, poignant and cleverly conceived one-man/multi-character play. I can urge even to those who avoid one-person shows not to miss this heart-breaking story." Full Review

95
American Theater Web

"There’s wondrous magic going on in James Lecesne’s astonishing one-man show...It’s both marvelously amusing and deeply moving, often within the space of just a couple of lines. Lecesne’s gift for quick transitions between characters extends to his writing and the emotional rollercoaster of 'Absolute Brightness' proves enormously satisfying." Full Review

75
Theatre Reviews by John Clum

"It's a sad, sweet story, competently written and acted. If I seem dissatisfied, it's because the show seems a bit formulaic. I would have liked more richness, more subtlety, better writing. In other words, I would have liked it to dig deeper. It's all a bit too nice." Full Review

90
Motherhood Later

"The multi-talented Lecesne is not only a captivating solo performer, his written word, and not a one is wasted here, is at times funny, poignant, insightful, and the 80 minute show moves along seamlessly. We come to care for Leonard, even though we never meet him. We feel like we have, and we wish we could." Full Review

100
The New York Times

for a previous production "A show about the brutal murder of a 14-year-old boy should not, logically speaking, leave you beaming with joy. And yet that’s the paradoxical effect of 'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,' a superlative solo show written and performed by James Lecesne, himself a pretty darn dazzling beacon of theatrical talent...Among the most remarkable and moving aspects of the show is how vividly Leonard himself is evoked, although he is not a character in it, just a blurred image seen on a screen." Full Review

100
American Theater Web

for a previous production "There’s wondrous magic going on at Dixon Place in James Lecesne’s astonishing one-man show, 'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey'...It’s both marvelously amusing and deeply moving, often within the space of just a couple of lines. Lecesne’s gift for quick transitions between characters extends to his writing and the emotional rollercoaster of 'Absolute Brightness' proves enormously satisfying." Full Review

95
Stage Buddy

for a previous production "You may call what James Lecesne does in 'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey' what you will — performance art, a one-man-show, a monodrama. What it is, decidedly, is an invigorating theatre experience, both moving and highly entertaining...As impressive as his “presto change-o” act is, the more wonderful aspect of Lecesne’s art is that he somehow allows you to stop being impressed with what he’s doing and instead become drawn into the story he’s telling." Full Review

95
Motherhood Later

for a previous production "The multi-talented Lecesne is not only a captivating solo performer, his written word….and not a one is wasted here….is at times funny, poignant, insightful, and the 80 minute show (no intermission) moves along seamlessly. We come to care for Leonard, even though we never meet him. We feel like we have….and we wish we could. And, we hope that he did not die in vain." Full Review

95
New York Theatre Review

for a previous production "The piece is a superbly well-crafted drama filled with rich characters and an engaging plot...In lesser hands, 'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey' could feel like a drawn out episode of Law and Order. Instead, Tony Speciale's elegant direction and Lecesne's accomplished acting use traditional solo performance tropes to deliver the most hopeful message to be found in crime stories: An act of evil can help us examine our lives and remind us to be better people." Full Review

100
NY Arts Review

for a previous production "A beautiful gem of a performance-piece, 'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey' pulls together author and performer James Lecesne’s gifts as storyteller, actor, advocate and activist to dazzling effect. Neither showy nor flashy, it pulls off the enviable feat of being quietly understated while also delivering an emotional punch that leaves audiences thinking and talking about what they’ve just seen. It’s what truly great theatre should be, but so rarely is." Full Review

95
BroadwayWorld

for a previous production "Lecesne's performance and powerful story is not to be missed, and shines a light on the consequence of fear and the effect one being can have on an entire community. It's truly a beautiful piece of theatre." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
87
Avg Score

60
Quirky, Disappointing, Well acted, Engaging, Poorly plotted

See it if you like being told a story, even if weak-plotted. Characters were vivid, the acting effective, but the story didn't work. Best for YA.

Don't see it if you have high standards. There are better solo shows. Not a disaster, but not fully satisfying. The message to be yourself is obvious.

Also I'm catching up on reviews of shows I've seen. Leonard Pelkey held my ... Read more Read less

88
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if topical stories about identity and inclusion move you.

Don't see it if the one man show format doesn't appeal to you.

92
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Memorable

See it if You enjoy one actor shows done right, are ok with being emotionally vulnerable while watching

Don't see it if I can't think of a good reason not to see this play

75
Great acting, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing

See it if you want to see a show that addresses the love and hate of a community in the context of a teen's sexuality.

Don't see it if you prefer shows with larger casts.

68
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Slow, One man show

See it if you'd like a mystery about a very out gay teen.

Don't see it if don't like one-man shows. It drags a bit (no pun intended), and the novel fills in more of the story.

100
Original, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if Powerful. Engaging. Amazing.

Don't see it if If you are homophobic.

100
Original, Masterful, Must see, Profound

See it if Brilliant. Moving, Stirring. Brilliant

Don't see it if Don't miss it.

87
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a great one-man-show about how love and hate profoundly effect a small town community.

Don't see it if you are homophobic or don't care for solo plays

82
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you want a positive message despite/predicated upon a senseless crime via charismatic storytelling in a streamlined one-man-show. Uplifting.

Don't see it if you want bells & whistles with your production. This show is ideally suited for portability, i.e. traveling to youth centers or campuses.

90
Original, Great acting, Relevant, Hilarious

See it if One actor playing many roles, diversity and inclusion

Don't see it if homophobic

86
Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Moving, Touching

See it if You like watching a masterful solo performer at work.

Don't see it if You are looking for a show with bright and fluffy subject matter.

100
Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Resonant

See it if you want to see a transcendent performance by James Lecesne. The story and performance were simultaneously uplifting and devastating.

Don't see it if You hate children, gays, or one-person shows. This is an absolute gem of a show, and if it gets any future re-mountings RUN, DON'T WALK.

89
Original, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Resonant

See it if You want to see a great one man show. Seriously, the actor was fantastic slipping into each character flawlessly.

Don't see it if It's pretty heavy without giving anything away, the subject matter is not for everyone.

90
Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Great writing

See it if You want to see a one man show about inclusion and embracing differences, with a strong statement against bullying and a light, loving touch

Don't see it if You're a homophobe.

90
Absorbing, Clever, Exquisite, Great acting, Profound

See it if u want a unique evening and story telling experience

Don't see it if you don't like the gays

87
Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a masterclass in character acting, or if you want a good introduction to solo shows.

Don't see it if you already know you hate solo shows (though, really, this one is a good one!)

79
Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Refreshing

See it if you like seeing an actor really show their abilities and you have an open mind about lgbt issues

Don't see it if you're uncomfortable with lgbt issues

100
Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Must see, Great writing

See it if you're looking for an amazing oneman show. it's almost over GO SEE IT!! he is so talented, the writing and staging are epic. amazing amazing

Don't see it if THERE IS NO REASON NOT TO GO. GO SEE IT BEFORE IT CLOSES!!

75
Brings dead back to life, Compelling one-man show

See it if you like a tour-de-force one-person show transmitting a well-told tale

Don't see it if you want to see a complex production where sparks fly, that requires a multiplicity of actors

80
Original, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you want to see a very talented actor tell a good story from the viewpoint of several characters

Don't see it if You need a lot of bells and whistles in a show

95
Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if You are interested in the experiences of marginalized youth and also appreciative of an amazingly talented actor/writer.

Don't see it if You are not culturally enlightened or compassionate about marginalized youth.

75
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you want to see a remarkable solo performance.

Don't see it if you can't abide one-person shows.

75
Clever, Delightful

See it if You like clever one man shows/mysteries.

Don't see it if You aren't into small productions or one man shows.

95
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you want to see incredible acting

Don't see it if you don't like one man shows, even if it is unlike any other one man show you've ever seen.

88
Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if you like terrific acting, an absorbing tale of a gay 14-yr-old boy & the townsfolk who appreciate him plus the sad fact of hate and fear.

Don't see it if you don't appreciate brilliant acting and writing, in this case by James Lecesne creating multiple characters.