Hope comes up a lot in this play. At one point the protagonist, Martin (Bobby Moreno), repeats “It’s all about hope” a couple of times. But hope proves not to be the panacea he thinks it is. Something has to underpin hope and it has to start with each of us.
Moreno is a force of nature in this role…Don’t miss this show.
Author George Brant has written a devastating play on conscience, morality, and the price of unfettered capitalism. Martin is not an evil man. He’s a construction worker in a depressed part of Texas (Brownsville) who simply wants to keep his wife and two daughters fed and housed as he hopes for a better future for his kids. So he takes a job at a detention center for unaccompanied minors and his blinkered world view shatters.
In other words, reality shows up and barges through the door. Reality takes no prisoners in this play.
Brant doesn’t beat anyone over the head with this piece. He tells a story about recognizing humanity as being more than “them and us” through the prism of Trump’s decisions to separate children and families seeking refuge at Mexico’s border. His script asks us to consider more than man-made laws and borders. It asks us to think about who we consider fully human. This is nicely embodied as Martin unconsciously goes from calling the refugee children “illegals” to “refugees.”
Then Moreno takes the script and soars with it. Dear heavens, the man is a chameleon. As this is a one-man show, he voices the parts of his wife, Luisa, his daughters, the captive children, the other guards, the boss, and the priest. In these conversations, he captures such nuance that you can almost see the other characters on stage with him. Moreno is a force of nature in this role.
Henry Godinez directs this show on a deceptively simple stage at Studio that, combined with the very effective lighting of Alberto Segarra, brings the story to life. Combined with the words of the script, it allows the imagination to populate the physical setting impeccably. Once you’re in this world, you’re there for the duration.
One caveat. There are a few times when it was a little difficult to hear Moreno clearly. This occurred when he was musing quietly to himself. It wasn’t enough to distract from the world created, but it was noticeable.
This is a story set just a couple of years ago, and one that is still reverberating through our society today. The writing is finely nuanced and as Martin, Moreno hits his stride from the time he opens his mouth to the blackout at the end. Don’t miss this show. Once you have a ticket, you have 48 hours to watch it and I plan to watch it again.
Running Time: Approximately one hour and 22 minutes without intermission.
Show Advisory: For mature audiences.
“Tender Age” runs through July 25, 2021. This production is pre-recorded on stage and presented virtually by Studio Theatre, Washington, DC. For more information, please click here.