BWW Review: NATIVE GARDENS at University Of Notre Dame Film, Television, And Theatre
University of Notre Dame Film, Television and Theatre present a stellar production of Karen Zacarias Native Gardens a dark comedy. The play takes place entirely in the backyards of a latinx couple that has just moved in and an elderly couple who have lived there for years. The scenic designer (Marcus Stephens) has done a wonderful job with the two backyards from which the audience is either on one couples side of the yard or the other. This at times was hard to see other scenes but the actors do their best with the space they are given.
The latinx couple Pablo Del Valle (George Azcarate) a lawyer and Tania Del Valle (Maria Amenabar Faria) a PHD student that is also extremely pregnant find their backyard to be a bit of a mess. The elderly couple Virginia Butley (Eileen DiPofi) an engineer and her husband Frank Butley (R. Tyrel London) who is an extreme gardener whom we never know what his actual job is accept that he works for an agency. The Del Valle's decide they want to replace the chain link fence that divides the two neighbors yards and ask the Butley's if they may do so. The Butley's agree and so the Del Valle's hire a surveyor to mark property line which they find out goes into their neighbors garden by two feet. The couples throughout the play have multiple fights which results in many conversations about race, identity, rich versus poor and family.
All the actors in the show were phenomenal and were well directed by Kevin Dryer. The direction was well received in the audience with conversations with the couples and the hilarious fights between them as well. Eileen DiPofi's performance was incredible with every moment she was on stage. From time to time Tania Del Valle's (Maria Amenabar Faria) accent went in and out which was hard for audiences to understand. We also were unable to see some key moments between the couples as their backs were turned to us. The production quality was superb including the lighting design by Vincent Augusto and the incredible costume design by Richard E. Donnelly. The cast well well dressed and had somethings new on for every scene. I thought that Virginia's costumes were flawless and fit her character very well. If you have time this weekend I highly recommend heading to the University of Notre Dame to see Native Gardens.