Josh Jonas' solo show stirs up strong emotions, even if aspects of it seem contrived.
The solo play is narrated by a character named Elijah, who looks back at the time he spent with his now deceased younger brother, Ace. From the get-go, Elijah tells us that Ace isn't going to survive, but that doesn't prevent both the character and the audience from becoming emotionally invested in the story.
Jonas has a strong stage presence and seemingly boundless energy. His handsome features are capable of a wide range of expression, radiating joy one minute and conveying profound sorrow the next. The fraternal affection that Elijah expresses seems genuine, and the script includes healthy doses of humor to balance out the play's more dramatic moments.
Director Larry Moss has no doubt assisted Jonas in making each and every character he performs distinct. Many of these impressions are painted in broad strokes, with the writer/performer taking on an accent or other stereotypical mode of conveying character. However, he never goes so far as to depict a complete caricature -- although his portrayal of Elijah's gay friend Danny comes awfully close.
As the tale continues, there are certain moments that come across as forced, including Ace's propensity for wiser-than-his-years advice. A scene between Elijah and his father -- during which the former unloads some guilt that he has been unnecessarily carrying -- is also a bit awkwardly constructed, but still moving. Music is one of the main things that bonds the two brothers together, and the playlist that serves as a near constant soundtrack for the story is nicely realized by sound designer Shannon Slaton, who fades the songs in and out of the narrative threads. Matthew Richards has also done a fine job with the lighting, which helps to set the mood and transition from scene to scene.