Theater Review: Funny And Insightful, 'Native Gardens' At Trinity Rep

Apr 12, 2018

What would you think that a play in which a couple of young people move to the Washington D. C. area, and meet up with their next door neighbors, old timers?

The couples get off to a good start but soon are ripping each other apart.

This is interesting, insightful and rip-roaring hilarious? Well, in the hands of playwright Karen Zacarias with a Trinity cast that is just perfect, this 90-minute, one-act play takes you on a ride of glorious laughter, some real-life incidents and, perhaps, most of all, makes a clear and honest statement onone of the most important, and difficult, problems of our time.

“Native Gardens” turns out to be a production that you want to see for all the fun, and for all the meaning, too. Don’t miss it, if you can help it.

In the beginning the kids and the old-timers get along fine, sharing wine and candy, finding out they enjoy gardening. The youngsters are soon expecting their first child. The elders think that’s great.

But it’s not long before difficulties enter.

Prime among them is that there’s been a little mistake years before. The property lines are off a bit in favor of the newcomers who decide, well fine, we’ll just take over. From there, things get dark.

Age is just one difference. Jumping in is the fact that the newcomers are of Latino backgrounds. That doesn’t set with the older couple from up north, New England for him, Buffalo for her.

At this point, playwright Zacarias still has “Native Gardens” in a laugh-a- minute hoot. But with real life movement she guides the play into serious times.

Age makes one difference. The older two believe in themselves. The younger neighbors sort of snicker at this. When things come to a possible courtroom fight, both men are ready.

The brilliance of this play is that you can see the argument in both sides. And care for both sides, too. Spoiler alert: There’s still a great, sweet ending.

In from the Dallas Theater Center, Director Christie Vela keeps all of this tightly bound. The cast is always themselves, always true to the view that they are decent people facing new challenges.

Trinity’s troupers are, shall we say, the older group who have lost none of the fire in their work. Timothy Crowe is a beautifully grumpy old guy who actually considered voting for President Barack Obama. But didn’t, of course. Anne Scurria takes on his wife with all the drive and insight possible even as she is devoting herself to tearing up the battle zone.

Daniel Duque-Estrada plays the young-ish lawyer with major league power. He’s a decent guy, but definitely knows what he wants, too. Maria Gabriela Rosado Gonzalez is wonderful as the mother-to-be. She’s sweet and careful, hilarious and hardworking.

And, so is “Native Gardens.” It’s a play that keeps up the hilarity even as it looks into the many changes that are going on in our country, changes that are coming whether we like them or not.