Photo by Don Kellogg

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey

A heartwarming, brilliantly-executed one-man show about a real topic and a not-so-real set of characters - although we've all probably known one or more of them in each of our lifetimes.

James Lecesne has written and stars in this one-man dynamo at the Westside Theatre.  At first it seems as if his character, Chuck, a tough-as-nails, seen-it-all, been-there, done-that kind of cop, will relay a rather simple disappearance turned murder case.  What we quickly finds out is that Mr. Lecesne portrays with supreme aplomb, the "interesting" characters of the small New Jersey town that Leonard Pelkey, the boy who vanished, lived in.  His ability to make you believe you are observing a 50+ old, wrinkled smoker in the basement morgue of the town is uncanny. He turns from young girl to old German clock-maker on a dime.  He splices and cuts between characters seamlessly and with aplomb.  Drawing on those hard core 'New Yaawker', young kid, and foreign accents and mannerisms alike and the all too typical small-town value systems, Mr. Lecesne draws the audience right into that very town during his 70 minute tale.

The characters in this tale are only half the story.  The other half is the sadness they exude as they talk about the flamboyant boy who probably lived way too far "out there" being himself for this small town to cope with.  What we learn through this tale, too late, as it were, is that Leonard, as different as he probably was, affected this town in the most positive and brilliant way of any of its storied inhabitants.

Too often we criticize in the short run without realizing the extreme joy and beauty a person really brings to our lives.  Stop. Think.  Reflect. Accept.