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Review: TENDER AGE at Studio Theatre

Now streaming on-demand until July 25th

Review: TENDER AGE at Studio Theatre
Martín (Bobby Moreno) faces a crisis of consciences while working as a government contractor in a Detention Center on the US-Mexico border in Tender Age, a new play by George Brant.

Studio Theatre wraps up their 2020-2021 virtual season with George Brant's Tender Age, directed by Henry Godinez. The production stars Bobby Moreno as Martín, a devoted husband and father of two, who is unemployed. There aren't too many job options in Brownsville, Texas, and he is ready to take whatever job he can get. He lands employment as a guard at a Walmart turned into an immigrant detention center. Martín's enthusiasm for his new job (and paycheck) wanes as he learns that he must look after children who have been separated from their parents at the border. As the detained children begin to lose hope, Martín is determined to find a way to keep them from falling into despair.

It's challenging to pull off a solo performance, and Moreno certainly isn't fazed at all. He fills the void created by the lack of other characters on stage. This is especially true during scenes in which Martín interacts with his daughters and the immigrant children.

The struggle with identity weighs heavily within Tender Age. Moreno effortlessly portrays Martín's sense of duty as a father, and then magnifies it into a "hero complex" without the big action. He doesn't confront the big corporation or even work to rally his community, but he does manage to fight off a guard who hurts a child.

Review: TENDER AGE at Studio Theatre
Photo courtesy of Studio Theatre. Video Production by Studiio Box DC.

Martín is coming to terms with own immigration story; he sees himself as more American than Mexican. This causes tensions with his wife, Luisa, and even his own friends. Throughout the play, Martín struggles to understand that his employer and the government aren't going to help the children reunite with their parents. Moreno successfully builds out Martín's emotional journey from denial to concern.

The play mostly takes place at the detention center. The set remains stationary in time, and it doesn't reflect the overcrowded conditions that the children are forced to live in.

Tender Age takes place in 2018, which seems like a lifetime ago given the circumstances of the past three years. The immigration detention centers still remain, and many children are still separated from their parents. It's more important than ever to make sure that their stories are told.

Running Time: About 1 hour and 30 minutes (no intermission)

Tender Age is now streaming through July 25, 2021. For tickets, visit Studio Theatre's website.

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