Native Gardens – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

You’ve heard of the feuding families of the Hatfields and the McCoys circa the Civil War in West Virginia and Kentucky? Well, there’s a new feud in town, this time in Washington, DC and you’re invited to take one side or the other. Ivoryton Playhouse welcomes you to “Native Gardens” by playwright Karen Zacarias, growing out of control until Sunday, June 12. Traditionally gardens are a special place for pleasure and a sense of peace, where one can contemplate nature in all its glory, watching bees pollinate petunias and butterflies flit their wings fancy free. What happens when new neighbors have vastly different views of appropriate flowering plants and the fences that enclose them, despite Robert Frost’s view that fences make good neighbors?

Come meet Frank and Virginia (Joseph Dellger and Stacia Fernandez) who have enjoyed their historic neighborhood for years, while Frank has cultivated a special flower garden so he can compete for a desired horticultural prize, one that keeps eluding him. Enter new next door neighbors Tania and Pablo (Blanca Grande and Jose-Maria Aguila), she who is quite pregnant and working on a doctorate and he who has joined a law firm and is anxious to make partner. The couples share glasses of wine and good company until Pablo rashly invites his entire legal firm to a barbecue in less than a week and Tania tries to renovate their garden and erect a new fence. Her desire to grow native plants, which Frank sees as nothing more than weeds, and a surveyor’s plot lines that reveal a big discrepancy in who owns what land cause the two couples to verbally and physically come to blows. As the date of the barbecue inches closer, the not-so-nice neighbors are ready for a full fledged feud.

The fact that Frank’s big flower competition is now seriously in question, after all the hard work he has done, does not alter or diminish the tension. Will Frank and Virginia claim Squatter’s rights? Will the law firm be impressed by Tania’s “natural garden”? Can the stately neighborhood withstand the accusations of being racist? How will the arrival of the new baby affect the situation? Brian J. Feehan directs this delightful comedy on a lovely set designed by Daniel Nischan.

For tickets ($55, seniors $50, students $25), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 3 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Bring proof of vaccination.

Come discover whether bees and butterflies will find a home in the gardens in question, creating peace and harmony in nature.