Mar 14, 2019, 10:50

Through March 30
THE ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS OF LEONARD PELKEY Alleyway Theatre/Buffalo United Artists.

Hate crimes aren’t new.
What’s new is laws against them and arrests and convictions.
Someone decides something has to be done about some individual for some reason and acts.
Actually, reason usually has nothing to do with it.
Often, the victim is well known and that’s the key to James Lecesne’s “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,” getting a marvelous presentation from Jimmy Janowski.
The script is written either for a large cast or a cast of one and that’s what Director Todd Warfield does here, Janowski alone on stage for more than an hour.
He’s become a familiar figure on local stages, particularly one-man shows like “Blanche Survives Katrina in a FEMA Trailer Named Desire.”
Pointed as that show may have been, it’s nowhere near as pointed as “Leonard Pelkey.”
The heart of the show is Janowski’s Chuck DeSantis, a detective in a small town on the Jersey Shore, where everyone knows everyone else and not everyone is happy about that.
Pelkey is a flamboyant gay teen, not shaded but out and known to everyone, for better or worse.
Police get involved when Pelkey is a missing person and then it turns into a murder probe when his body is found.
As Desantis wades through his small town, Janowski shifts among roles, from a beauty shop owner to her teen daughter to the operator of a fading watch shop to a local young thug.
It requires suspension of disbelief and quick switches of character from the only person on stage, helped along by Warfield to make it plausible.
DeSantis pieces together a story of a nice kid who wants a better world faced with some who only want a seeker of a better world who has standard characteristics.
The investigation changes DeSantis and may have changed the small town.
Obviously, this script is being staged because it has its heart in the right place with the right ending.
All of that is true.
What makes this one-man show work is Janowski in a must-see performance.
Janowski and “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” is one of the top performances of this theater season.
Again, see it.


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