Jes Tom is looking for their great "apocalypse" love. In Less Lonely, Tom explores nuanced queer identities, death and the search for romance.
Jes Tom is no stranger to the stage or queer life. They have been out as queer since they were 13. Tom has also performed as a stand-up comedian for many, many years. Tom is clearly comfortable in front of an audience. They speak directly to the crowd and, at times, riff off of the audience's reactions. Tom holds the crowd in the palm of their hand. Even a slight facial expression to the audience can send ripples of laughter through the theater. Their comedic timing is stellar and compliments their expert joke writing.
The script covers many topics but centers around Tom's dating life. They identified as a lesbian for 17 years before starting hormone replacement therapy and starting to develop a new attraction for men. The changes that come along with taking testosterone are discussed alongside the changes going on in our world. As their identities shift and the world shifts, Tom finds themself continually struggling to find that "one great end of the world love." They explain their lifelong preoccupation with death and how it colors the way they date. Recently, their grandmother fell ill and passed away. This death rattled Tom and changed the way they think about love at the end of one's life. After sitting with their family and supporting their grandmother in her last moments, they realized they don't need one great love so they won't die alone. Instead, they discover they just need people who will love them through the end and mourn them when they are gone. While much of the show's content is dark in discussing death, the overarching tone remains light and comedic. The writing is intelligent, profound and hilarious at the same time.
The scenic design by Claire DeLiso is gorgeous. The historic venue at Greenwich House is full of candles. The old window panes and ledges hold candles around the space, surrounding the audience in candlelight. The main playing area on stage is painted in a red circle with a black background. Next to Tom, while they perform, sits a stool with a red glass of water and a lit candlestick. As the lights fade in at the conclusion of the performance, Tom looks at the candle, at which point the flame extinguishes and the stage goes dark. Deliso's design is atmospheric and compliments the material and tone of the show. Deliso's work heightens the
production value and elevates the piece from a stand-up routine to a one-person show.
The audience for the performance I attended was overwhelmingly queer, which created a warm community atmosphere. However, people of all identities could appreciate the show and find comedy in the writing and performance. Tom's career is taking off and launching to new heights. Make sure to catch them!
Written and performed by
Directed by Em Weinstein
November 27, 2023- January 6, 2024
The Greenwich House Theater (27 Barrow Street, NYC)
Carmen! is a trans-multimedia artist specializing in playwriting, acting and crochet. Originally from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, they are currently based in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, returning to their Atlantic Oceanic roots. Their play Taking the Plunge has been performed at the Tank and the Chain off-Broadway and in the 2023 Fresh Fruit Festival slated this June. Carmen has also worked in front-of-house and technical positions for prominent theater organizations including New Dramatists, Portland Playhouse, Emursive and Future Proof. Carmen’s mission is to use play to create meaningful representation by and for underrepresented communities. For more information on Carmen! Follow them on socials @carmenacetosociety or check out www.carmenburbridge.info