Monthly Archive for: ‘August, 2018’

Native Gardens is humorous microcosm of the border wars.

Frank (Jackson Davis) and Virginia (Amy Resnik) dispute the property line with their neighbors Pablo (Michael Evans Lopez) and Tania (Marlene Martinez) in Native Gardens at TheatreWorks.. Photo by Kevin Berne.

Native Gardens: Comedy by Karen Zacarías. Directed by Amy Gonzales. TheatreWorks of Silicon Valley, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA.  or call (650) 463-1960. August 22 – September 16, 2018

Native Gardens is humorous microcosm of the border wars. Rating: ★★★★☆

The axiom that “Art mimics Life” is on display at TheatreWorks’ stunning visual production of Native Gardens that will have you thinking about the “border war” playing out in southern California and at the same time provide laughs that take the edge off the fundamental seriousness of the plot.   It is a plot that has played out numerous times in theatres, on TV and the movies. Simply, disparate couples reside next to each other with cultural differences and a disputed property line.

One couple is Frank and Virginia Butley (Jackson Davis and Amy Resnick), educated, middle-aged and white. They live a comfortable life in a Washington, DC suburb. He is a consultant for an unnamed agency with an obsessive interest in flower gardening with a major goal to win a “Gardener of the Year” award. She is an engineer working for a defense contractor and they have an underachieving single son. Their home and backyard has a perfectly manicured lawn and beautiful flowers bordering the property line.

The property on the other side of “their property line” is the decrepit back yard of a “fixer-upper” house that has been purchased by a young Latino couple Pablo and Tania Del Valle (Michael Evans Lopez and Marlene Martinez).  Pablo is from Chile starting a legal career with a prominent law firm. She born and raised in New Mexico is eight months pregnant and still finishing her Ph.D. In contrast to the Butleys she believes that plants should be native to the area and even lectures Frank about ecology.  This is a start in the conflict that spirals out of control.  

Social conflict both ethnic/racial and personal spill out across the disputed property line and although with a humorous spin become a little prickly. There are a plethora of laughs as the situation escalates into semi-serious physical confrontation bordering on farce. Karen Zacarías’ beautifully written nuanced dialog and superb acting keeps the play in balance and adds an improbable scene that leads to an epilog of harmony allowing the audience to leave the theater without being offended after 90 minutes without an intermission.

Director Amy Gonzalez keeps the multi-scene action flowing but might wish to rein in the bombast of Jackson Davis. It is a pleasure to have local icon Amy Resnick back on the boards as she becomes a modern day deus ex machina in the penultimate scene.  You will be cheering for Michael Evans Lopez and Marlene Martinez with their perfect under-playing as the much put upon new neighbors.

Scenic designer Andrea Bechert has created a handsome realistic set that includes a huge oak tree that plays a significant role in the neighborly conflict.  The stage hands earn their wages since they must put the torn up flower beds together after each performance.

Recommendation: A should see production with humor and social implications.

CAST: Jackson Davis, Frank Butley; Amy Resnick, Virginia Butley, Michael Evans Lopez, Pablo Del Valle, Marlene Martinez a, Tania Del Valle; Landscapers, Mauricio Suarez, Laura Espino.

CREATIVE TEAM: Directed by Amy Gonzalez; Scenic Designer, Andrea Bechert; Costume Designer, Noah Marin; Lighting Designer, Steven B. Mannshardt; Sound Designer, Jeff Mockus; Stage Manager, Sara Sparks; Assistant Stage Manager, Amy Smith Goodman.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of

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