Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Neighbors get territorial in 'Native Gardens'

From left: Pablo (Michael Evans Lopez) , Virginia (Amy Resnick), Tania (Marlene Martinez) and Frank (Jackson Davis) get acquainted in Virginia and Frank's back yard. (Photo by Kevin Berne)

Relationships between new and established neighbors begin cordially in Karen Zacarías’s “Native Gardens,” presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley.

A young couple, Pablo Del Valle (Michael Evans Lopez), an attorney, and his pregnant wife, Tania (Marlene Martinez), who is completing her doctoral dissertation, have just bought a fixer-upper in Washington, D.C.

Living next door are longtime middle-aged residents, Frank Butley (Jackson Davis), a government contractor, and his wife, Virginia (Amy Resnick), a Lockheed Martin engineer.

When the Del Valles tell the Butleys that they want to replace the unsightly low chain-link fence between their back yards with a higher wood one, the Butleys are delighted.

Their reaction changes when the Del Valles discover that their property is 2 feet wider than had been thought. Reclaiming that 2 feet will intrude into the yard that Frank has so carefully created and tended.

This discovery leads to increasing rancor between the couples. Racism, ageism, politics, entitlement, environmentalism (Tania wants only native plants; Frank has non-natives) and other issues fuel the dispute.

After the play’s basic premise is established, much of the action consists of often nasty and sometimes humorous confrontations.

The outcome, however, is summarized by the four characters a year later.

Director Amy Gonzalez keeps the action moving smoothly and elicits fine performances from all four actors.

The set by Andrea Bechert (with lighting by Steven B. Mannshardt) readily shows the differences between the two back yards. Costumes by Noah Marin and sound by Jeff Mockus enhance the show.

Running about 90 minutes with no intermission, “Native Gardens” will continue through Sept. 16 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View.

For tickets and information, call (650) 463-1960 or visit www.theatreworks.org.