Native Gardens

Falls Theatre, Wappingers Falls

This drama between a Latinx couple and a White couple is actually really layered, and I just gotta know how you feel about it.

By Andrew Andrews

Glen Morrice, Lorena Monagas, Kit Colbourn and Ken Straus star in County Players’ production of Karen Zacarias’ Native Gardens, directed by Christine Crawfis at the Falls Theatre. Original photos by Louisa Vilardi Photography.

A young lawyer named Pablo and his pregnant wife Tania have just moved into their new “fixer-upper” in upscale Potomac, Maryland.

Frank and Virginia have lived in the house next door for 38 years, allowing Frank to cultivate a not-quite-award-winning garden. Always losing the Potomac Horticultural Society competition to Phillip Saxon across the street, Frank is plenty happy when the new neighbors want to replace their dilapidated, chain-link fence with a beautiful new wooden divider.

Happy, that is, until Pablo discovers that part of Frank’s garden is actually on the wrong side of the property line, and wants to erect the new fence in its rightful location, eliminating half of Frank’s backyard beautification.

Making matters worse, the fence is to go up just before the annual garden contest, which is sure to ruin Frank’s chances of finally taking the title away from Saxon.

Tania desperately attempts to work out a compromise and keep the peace, but the tense discussion degrades into a full-blown argument after Frank and Virginia make disparaging remarks about Pablo and Tania’s ethnicity.

The complete cast and crew includes MaryBeth Boylan and Mark Weglinski (not shown), Rosemary Evaul, Connie Boden, Mike Boden, Morrice, Monagas, Crawfis, Jeffery Battersby, Christine McCarthy, Colbourn, Joanna Battersby, Kim Barnett, Straus, Peggy Ringwood and Marc Schroeder.

Excuse me for a moment while I gush about County Players’ production of Native Gardens.

Unlike so many other plays these days that start out funny and become increasingly tense, this story starts out tense, teases at turning ridiculous, then pulls back and becomes even more tense, before all hell finally lets loose and, yes, ridiculousness ensues.

From the very first scene I was just itching to find out how it would turn out… and I was not disappointed!

On a beautiful set that includes a gigantic tree trunk (which is important to the story), the four main actors perfectly fit and deliver their roles, thanks as much to their own talent as to that of their director. An ensemble of four additional, nonspeaking “Leaf It To Us Landscaping” actors provide comedic interludes to tone back the tension so it can rebuild in the next scene moments later.

Although peppered with factual errors, the script is full of mid-sentence epigrams that go by so quickly that you gotta pay attention to notice them. But even if you miss ’em (I’m sure quite a few slipped past me while I was caught up in the action), there’s plenty of pleasure to be had from what’s obvious.

While I’ve already come to expect a lot of bang-for-the-buck from County Players after last year, this Season 65 opener is the first time I’ve been so impressed as to award a perfect score. For less than $25 a seat, Native Gardens may very well be the Hudson Valley’s best overall theater experience of the summer!

Andrew Andrews attended Native Gardens at Falls Theatre in Wappingers Falls on Friday, July 8, 2022 @ 8:00pm to write this review.