Performers who inhabit many roles during a single performance tend to broadcast their own feelings about the characters they portray. I've seen a number of very well-respected storytellers and monologists who, either consciously or unconsciously, adulate or demean their own characters, thereby informing the audience whom they dig and whom they think are total douchebags. Yet Lecesne's characters, all humans and some more flawed than others, are presented without judgment. Characters that could very easily slide into parody never do. Lecesne depicts the mob wife with the heart of gold, the fey British drama teacher, the heavily accented hairdresser and her sullen adolescent daughter with the same nuanced, respectful distance that he does the aged and regretful clockmaker, the hard-bitten detective who investigates the disappearance, and even Pelkey's killer. The show benefits enormously from its creator's refusal to condescend to his characters or, by extension, to his audience.
The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey reminds us that for all the new freedoms we celebrate in this country, we still have a very long way to go when it comes to the embrace--or even understanding--of difference. This is an important message, but not one that's forced, here. This is a gentle, moving show, written and performed by one of the absolute brightest and most careful storytellers I've seen.