I loved the Hippodrome’s “Native Gardens.” If you are looking for a fun evening in the theatre run to see it. Close to perfection, “Native Gardens” is an uproarious contemporary comedy filled with laughs of all kinds. Playwright Karen Zacarias makes us laugh at her characters, ourselves, and the crazy world we live in. Two sets of neighbors engage in a generational battle that illuminates the human condition with insight, self reflection, and humor. The cast is outstanding. Kevin Rainesberger and Nell Page Rainesberger soar as Frank and Virginia Butley, the longtime home owners in the stately neighborhood where the action takes place. It is a satisfying pleasure to watch two actors, husband and wife in real life, spar with each other and their younger counterparts in their adjacent backyards. Kevin and Page are mesmerizing from Kevin’s physicality while gardening and Nell’s comic attempts at feminine logic. Hippodrome newcomers Marco Adiak Voli and Alea Figueroa, as Pablo and Tania Del Valle, are just as wonderful to watch as their older neighborhood counterparts especially as they immerse in a battle of the sexes.
Director Kristin Clippard sets a terrific pace and keeps the laughs coming all night long. Clippard handles all the play’s contemporary political and cultural issues with aplomb leaving the audience with pleasing smiles from ear to ear. The technical aspects of “Native Gardens” are similarly perfect. Mihai Ciupe’s dual backyard setting is outstanding providing two distinctive environments. Amanda Nipper’s sound especially the latin touches were memorable. Erin Jester’s costumes and lighting by Robert P. Robbins complete the evening’s excellence. Performances of “Native Garden” run now through March 26th. Tickets can be purchased at TheHipp.org or by calling (352) 375-4477.
Kevin Marshall for “Gainesville Theatre Review”