4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The tangled -isms of Native Gardens

Each year sees several plays about two couples who begin amicably and end up as flying body parts

A tale of two gardens at The Old Globe
A tale of two gardens at The Old Globe

Native Gardens

Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall" contains a character who repeats the line “good fences make good neighbors” like it's a kind of mantra. Karen Zacharias’ Native Gardens begs to differ. Most of the 90-minute comedy implies that, instead of “fences,” Frost's fellow should have said “barricades.”

It’s a tale of two gardens. A rusty chain-link fence separates Frank Butley’s immaculate, imitation Eden from new neighbors Tania and Pablo del Valle’s barren, fixer-upper tract, graced only by an ancient oak tree.

Their houses are in an old, traditional part of town. Most of the silver-haired inhabitants held prestigious jobs in Washington, D.C. The del Valles may not be the first persons of color to live in the neighborhood, but when their moving van pulls up, eyebrows rise. The next-door Butleys want to let them know right off that they are open to differences — at least to those they understand.

Now retired, Frank used to work for the “Agency” (if you get his drift). He channeled his obsessive personality toward winning first prize in the Potomac Horticultural Society’s “best garden” competition. He’s only reached “honorable mention” so far, and it’s driving him nuts. So he sprays, primps, and adores every chrysanthemum, hydrangea, and leaf of English ivy. No-nonsense wife Virginia, an engineer who works for a defense contractor, enables Frank’s obsession with pride.

Stereotypes accumulate around Frank and Harriet: WASP, governmental-insider-types. Given their creds, you can guess who got their vote for president with near certainty. But then, Frank says he “almost voted for Obama,” and Virginia could qualify as a feminist role model.

Strereotypes accumulate around the del Valles, though their credentials should erase them all. Born in Chile, Pablo just joined one of the most respected industrial law firms in D.C. He already envisions his name on the letterhead. Besides expecting a baby in five weeks, Tania is finishing up her doctoral dissertation and has a love — as great as Frank’s — for horticulture. But with a difference: he uses pesticides, insecticides, and whatever else will abolish imperialistic weeds. Most of his plants, so to speak, are foreign born — i.e. immigrants.

Not only that, he detests the de Valle’s oak tree. Frank chopped its twin down years ago.

In contrast, Tania espouses “native gardens,” indigenous plants, even weeds, to re-balance the ecosystem. In other words, she’s eager to abolish immigrant vegetation, which, we learn, can terrorize a landscape. Frank’s garden, meanwhile, has an open border policy.

Tania and Frank will lock horns. Trigger #1: Pablo wants to impress the legal higher ups. Though their dust bowl backyard could audition for The Grapes of Wrath, Frank wants to host a barbecue for the Bigs on Saturday — just six days away — and wants the beginnings of a native garden already in place when they arrive.

Trigger #2: a surveyor discovers that the Del Valles’ property line extends a full two feet into the Butleys' yard. Not only that, the total footage would increase the property value by over $38,000.

That’s the set-up. But there’s a twist: the playwright shuffles the expected traits: Tania (a game Kimberli Flores) is pregnant and finishing a dissertation; they say you can’t do both. Though she probably wouldn’t give a hoot about feminism, Virginia (Peri Gilpin, of Frasier fame) forged her career with such determination she could wave a banner for the cause. Pablo (a mostly harried Eddie Martinez) is an in-demand lawyer — from Chile? Absolutely.

Each year sees several plays about two couples who begin amicably and end up as flying body parts. What’s interesting about Native Gardens: the characters often find themselves on the opposite side from their spouses. But just when you think that Virginia might bond with Tania, or Frank (an over-animated Mark Pinter) with Pablo, they flip again. And along the way, they shoot litanies of –isms at each other — sexism, racism, ageism — and then act them out.

At full volume. In the Old Globe’s production, the actors shout 60 percent of the time, maybe more. And though the play touches on button-pushing issues — immigration, in particular — excessively strained comedic antics overpower — and trivialize — them.

The cast, directed by Edward Torres, works well at a crisp tempo. Scenic designer Collette Pollard’s bipolar set features an large oak tree plunked centerstage (which must have been like putting a ship in a bottle), and Jennifer Brawn Gittings’ costumes reveal character in a jiff.

The production begins as an intriguing toe-to-toe comedy, unravels into farce, then slides into slapstick silliness, followed by an unbelievably joyous ending: everyone gets exactly what they want. No sitcom would venture this far into Never-neverland.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Sir Gawain & the Green Knight, Chinese New Year Celebration

Events January 30-February 3, 2022
Next Article

I-15 mimics L.A traffic, when there were quail in Bonita

The 805 coming north out of South Bay, offbeat San Diego, a real California moment in local painting, dangerous spots to live
A tale of two gardens at The Old Globe
A tale of two gardens at The Old Globe

Native Gardens

Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall" contains a character who repeats the line “good fences make good neighbors” like it's a kind of mantra. Karen Zacharias’ Native Gardens begs to differ. Most of the 90-minute comedy implies that, instead of “fences,” Frost's fellow should have said “barricades.”

It’s a tale of two gardens. A rusty chain-link fence separates Frank Butley’s immaculate, imitation Eden from new neighbors Tania and Pablo del Valle’s barren, fixer-upper tract, graced only by an ancient oak tree.

Their houses are in an old, traditional part of town. Most of the silver-haired inhabitants held prestigious jobs in Washington, D.C. The del Valles may not be the first persons of color to live in the neighborhood, but when their moving van pulls up, eyebrows rise. The next-door Butleys want to let them know right off that they are open to differences — at least to those they understand.

Now retired, Frank used to work for the “Agency” (if you get his drift). He channeled his obsessive personality toward winning first prize in the Potomac Horticultural Society’s “best garden” competition. He’s only reached “honorable mention” so far, and it’s driving him nuts. So he sprays, primps, and adores every chrysanthemum, hydrangea, and leaf of English ivy. No-nonsense wife Virginia, an engineer who works for a defense contractor, enables Frank’s obsession with pride.

Stereotypes accumulate around Frank and Harriet: WASP, governmental-insider-types. Given their creds, you can guess who got their vote for president with near certainty. But then, Frank says he “almost voted for Obama,” and Virginia could qualify as a feminist role model.

Strereotypes accumulate around the del Valles, though their credentials should erase them all. Born in Chile, Pablo just joined one of the most respected industrial law firms in D.C. He already envisions his name on the letterhead. Besides expecting a baby in five weeks, Tania is finishing up her doctoral dissertation and has a love — as great as Frank’s — for horticulture. But with a difference: he uses pesticides, insecticides, and whatever else will abolish imperialistic weeds. Most of his plants, so to speak, are foreign born — i.e. immigrants.

Not only that, he detests the de Valle’s oak tree. Frank chopped its twin down years ago.

In contrast, Tania espouses “native gardens,” indigenous plants, even weeds, to re-balance the ecosystem. In other words, she’s eager to abolish immigrant vegetation, which, we learn, can terrorize a landscape. Frank’s garden, meanwhile, has an open border policy.

Tania and Frank will lock horns. Trigger #1: Pablo wants to impress the legal higher ups. Though their dust bowl backyard could audition for The Grapes of Wrath, Frank wants to host a barbecue for the Bigs on Saturday — just six days away — and wants the beginnings of a native garden already in place when they arrive.

Trigger #2: a surveyor discovers that the Del Valles’ property line extends a full two feet into the Butleys' yard. Not only that, the total footage would increase the property value by over $38,000.

That’s the set-up. But there’s a twist: the playwright shuffles the expected traits: Tania (a game Kimberli Flores) is pregnant and finishing a dissertation; they say you can’t do both. Though she probably wouldn’t give a hoot about feminism, Virginia (Peri Gilpin, of Frasier fame) forged her career with such determination she could wave a banner for the cause. Pablo (a mostly harried Eddie Martinez) is an in-demand lawyer — from Chile? Absolutely.

Each year sees several plays about two couples who begin amicably and end up as flying body parts. What’s interesting about Native Gardens: the characters often find themselves on the opposite side from their spouses. But just when you think that Virginia might bond with Tania, or Frank (an over-animated Mark Pinter) with Pablo, they flip again. And along the way, they shoot litanies of –isms at each other — sexism, racism, ageism — and then act them out.

At full volume. In the Old Globe’s production, the actors shout 60 percent of the time, maybe more. And though the play touches on button-pushing issues — immigration, in particular — excessively strained comedic antics overpower — and trivialize — them.

The cast, directed by Edward Torres, works well at a crisp tempo. Scenic designer Collette Pollard’s bipolar set features an large oak tree plunked centerstage (which must have been like putting a ship in a bottle), and Jennifer Brawn Gittings’ costumes reveal character in a jiff.

The production begins as an intriguing toe-to-toe comedy, unravels into farce, then slides into slapstick silliness, followed by an unbelievably joyous ending: everyone gets exactly what they want. No sitcom would venture this far into Never-neverland.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Episcopal parish potluck, San Pasqual Valley remnants of the 350-acre sweet potato farm

Rhubarb, spinach, Easter Peeps, on a farm in WWII, young 70s couples go gourmet, hippie mom cooking, pie making, ice cream, apricots, white trash food, canning, beets, giblet gravy, bread, asparagus
Next Article

Great local skiing could be right around the corner

Wild surf can take away sand
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close