Skip to main content Skip to footer site map


The Square One Theatre Company in Stratford, Connecticut completes its 28th Anniversary Season with The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey by James Lescene. Lecesne's multihued play glows with such humanity (and robust humor) that the audience may find itself choking back a tear or two. The play, directed by Tom Holehan, is a dazzling beacon of theatrical talent. The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, hailed by The New York Times "...leaves you beaming with joy...a superlative solo show..." opens Thursday, May 3 and continues Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through May 20 (2018) at Stratford Academy located at 719 Birdseye Street in Stratford, Connecticut.

Square One Theatre is partnering with Stratford High School Gay/Straight Alliance whose advisor, Mike Fiorello and Alliance members will facilitate post-performance talkbacks with the audience following the 4pm twilight matinee performances on Saturdays, May 5-12 & 19.

From the writer of the Academy Award-winning film Trevor which inspired the founding of The Trevor Project, the only nationwide 24-hour suicide prevention and crisis intervention lifeline for LGBT and questioning youth, comes a play written by and originally performed by James Lecesne.

The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, selected by The New York Times as a 'Critic's Pick' with "BRAVO! A tale that shimmers with needling suspense," concerns the disappearance of Leonard Pelkey, a flamboyant 14-year-old boy who dared to be different, and the small New Jersey town that will never be the same without him.

Chuck DeSantis, a small-town investigator, who gets a kick out of uttering famous Shakespearian lines in his working-class accent, sets out to solve the disappearance. Through Leonard's world, the detective confronts the horrors of bullying and sees how a community can learn to embrace their differences by having the courage to stay true to their individuality. Other audience members are quick to point out "If you're the kind of person who enjoys human-centered stories, who can't resist a detective yarn no matter how basic and who enjoys watching an actor impersonate some of the town's kooky yet hilariously recognizable characters, this play is what you've been waiting for.

The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey is an affecting and entertaining testament to the beauty of a world in which difference is celebrated rather than denigrated. Detective DeSantis begins with such gruff, blue-collar masculinity that it's something of a shock when, in the blink of an eye, he morphs into nine totally different characters orbiting Leonard's world. Among the town characters are Ellen, the sultry owner of a local hair salon who takes Leonard under her wing...her 16-year-old shy, nerdy daughter Pheobe...even Otto, an old German clock repair shop worker who came to understand his own gay son through talking with Leonard. Each of the characters of a small Jersey shore town struggles to comprehend the mysterious disappearance. Through differing viewpoints, the secrets of the mystery, as well as those of the community, are slowly revealed.

What makes Leonard so different? He enjoys giving Ellen's customers beauty tips. He tells his drama teacher that he must have wings to play Ariel, the fairy character from Shakespeare's The Tempest. He cuts up flip-flops to make platform rainbow sneakers that only make him more of a target for neighborhood ruffians even though the shoes are pretty fabulous.

As the playwright, Lecesne manages to convey the meaning of this loss in a town that slowly begins to feel the absence of such a creative, peacefully nonconforming spirit. Musing in his Shakespearean way, Detective DeSantis asks when reflecting on the troubled yet inordinately bright life of Leonard: "Is there anything in this world more unexpected than a human being? What is it about a kid who gets chased and jumped and slammed into his locker on a daily basis and still insists on being himself?" That's the question asked in this remarkable and heartwarming one-man show opening May 3, 2018 and continuing through May 20.

The cast features ALEXANDER KULCSAR, who is the all-time record holder of Square One Subscriber Awards winning a total of nine times for his leading roles in Chapatti, The Outgoing Tide, Freud's Last Session, Southern Comforts, Moonlight and Magnolias, The Shop at Sly Corner, Camping with Henry and Tom and The Business of Murder as well as a Featured Actor Award in Later Life. Other Square One credits include Olive and the Bitter Herbs, Deadly Murder, ART, The Right Kind of People, Match, Talking Heads, Inherit the Wind, The Countess, Twelve Angry Men, Three Viewings, The Heiress, Two Rooms and The Business of Murder,

Related Articles View More Connecticut Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You