“The Enforcer” opening night 7-13-15, MITF 16, Running Time 30 minutes
Writer, Producer, Performer: Glynn Borders
Directors: Glynn Borders and Herbie Quinones
Venue: Davenport Theatre Black Box, 354 W. 45th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues
Review by Ramona Pula
photo credit: Jonathan M. Smith
Many of us have been bullied in our lives, including me as both a child and an adult. You’ve probably been bullied. Or perhaps you have been – or are – a bully yourself?
“The Enforcer” is a one-man show written and performed by Glynn Borders, running at the 16th Annual Midtown International Theatre Festival (“MITF”). The play explores changing identities as it pertains to relational power dynamics among three characters: student Lonnie Pierson; his bully, Joseph Smith; and their teacher, Mr. Moorehouse. Part autobiography and part disturbing fantasy, this play also touches on shifting meanings of the word “enforcer” itself.
Glynn Borders is a fine writer and charismatic performer. He has a good voice, and projects at an appropriate level for the Davenport Theatre Black Box. He has expressive eyes that are a window to his pain, when he lets us see it, and at times his stare is intense. Comic moments and characterizations are peppered throughout the story that Mr. Borders weaves for the audience, who laughed easily several times.
Overall this is a solid production, albeit a bit rough in places. The show simply needs a little polish.
I found Lonnie’s southern accent to be a tad inconsistent, and there could be more differentiation between the characters’ voices.
The staging is perhaps too static. Mr. Borders spent most of tonight’s show sitting in a chair. When he finally stood up well into the play, the increase in energy was palpable and welcome.
Glynn Borders and Herbert Quinones are listed as co-directors of this production.
I personally think it’s difficult to direct oneself, and according to the press this is Mr. Quinones’ “first venture as a director”. Perhaps in a future incarnation, this already excellent production will get even better with director and actor finding more movement in the material. This would also help with setting apart locations as the story goes from place to place.
The lighting design is basic and serves for general illumination more than to establish mood or atmosphere. I did notice a couple of lighting changes that were meant to do just that, however in a production with so few cues they stuck out and were not subtle. Making the fades slower might help in this case. There was a technical glitch at curtain during which the blackout stretched out too long as the audience applauded, however applaud they did, enthusiastically.
The music recordings played are lovely, and integral to the story that Mr. Borders presents.
The story is the strength of this production, along with its teller’s performance. As Mr. Borders describes a humiliation he endures at the hand of his erstwhile savior turned new bully, one that is psychologically devastating to him, we see clearly his pain and deep embarrassment. We feel his shame and anger.
As the story continues to unfold, we learn a few truths. People change, some for better and some for worse. Sometimes we forgive, however we do not necessarily forget. Time writes and rewrites our stories.
Several twists at the end of this tale keep us engaged until the end.
It reminds us that “Thangs ain’t always as they seem.”