REVIEW: Native Gardens

Entertaining, thought-provoking, brief – a summer outing worth considering

In Native Gardens, a full-length one-act play by Karen Zacarías, cultures and gardens clash, turning well-intentioned neighbors into feuding enemies. A delicate dispute over a long-standing fence line soon spirals into an all-out border dispute, exposing both families’ notions of race, taste, class and privilege.

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The Guthrie Theater production of this refreshingly non-trivial comedy zips right along in the capable hands of a fine cast. Sally Wingert and Steve Hendrickson portray a well-established D.C. couple with a prize-worthy English garden. Their new Latinx neighbors (Jacqueline Correa, Dan Domingues) have just purchased a “fixer-upper,” pursue demanding professions (doctoral candidate, rising attorney), and are expecting their first child. The ensemble also includes Pedro Juan Fonseca and Reyna Rios. What follows is a sometimes touching, frequently funny, and occasionally cringe-worthy (in a good way) theatrical experience, expertly delivered on a visually-appealing set (Scenic Designer: Joseph Tilford).

Per her aspirations, playwright Karen Zacarías’s lively script makes a convincing argument for “get[ting] into people’s hearts and minds through laughter and comedy.”

I can envision a multi-generational party – family or otherwise – safely navigating this performance and having plenty to discuss and laugh about afterwards.

This is the first production of Zacarías’ work at the Guthrie and the second play by a Latina playwright on a Guthrie mainstage. Native Gardens continues through August 20, 2017 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage.  Tickets start at $34. Cllick here to learn more about the Guthrie’s rush ticket program. Run time: 90 minutes.

Review by Wendy Smith photo by Dan Norman