Home

In Native Gardens, an ambitious young couple moves into a fixer-upper in an affluent DC neighborhood. Husband Pablo (Gabriel Ruiz) is a lawyer, his pregnant wife Tania (Paloma Nozicka) is working on her doctorate dissertation. Their nice and lively, albeit politically incorrect, neighbors are a defense contractor Virginia (Janet Ulrich Brooks) and her retired gardening-loving husband Frank (Patrick Clear). Shortly after moving in, Pablo has a bright idea to invite his entire law firm (all sixty people) to a barbeque in their embarrassingly unfinished yard, so the young couple gets to work. The old wire fence separating the neighbors’ properties (very nice design set by William Boles) has to go, but it soon becomes evident that Frank has been gardening on extra 23 inches of land that actually belongs to the new couple, according to the property plans.


Upon further calculations Pablo realizes that those 23 inches along the old fence translate into extra 80 sq feet of land which goes for “about $15,000 at a current market price”. Well, it’s a war then! Frank refuses to let go of his lovingly raised flowers right up against the ill-placed fence, while the young couple is on a mission to re-claim what’s rightfully theirs.


Who knew that an incorrectly placed fence would cause so much commotion? We all did, we saw it coming before the play even started. But despite its predictability, this comedy is still entertaining and somewhat thought provoking. Written by Karen Zacarias and directed by Marti Lyons, Native Gardens is more about generation clash, stereotypes, ageism and racism rather than the property lines. The older couple is from the pre-self-censorship era, and in their ignorance, they don’t always choose words carefully; they say what’s on their minds rather than hide behind politically correct words and ideas. But those words are often offensive to the delicate ears of Tania, whose proper opinions, frankly, make for sterile conversation, enough to put one to sleep. All in all, the two couples can’t effectively communicate, so they threaten each other instead. Will their peace be restored?


Native Gardens runs through July 2nd at Victory Gardens Theater. To find out more about this show visit www.VictoryGardens.org.

Published in Theatre in Review

King of the Yees, now playing at the Goodman Theatre through April 30, is full of laughs and wisdom. Both touching and endearing, the play - with themes of family, community and tradition - takes a look at one Chinese-American family’s attempt to bridge the generation gap.

 

Written by Lauren Yee and directed by Joshua Kahan Brody, King of the Yees features Lauren and her father Larry Yee as central characters in this off-beat, quirky, yet totally relevant production that explores the history of patriarchal family groups like the Yee Fung Toy association in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

 

King of the Yees is only kind of true—just like the stories your father once told you as a child,” said Lauren. “Growing up, I never understood what the Yee Fung Toy – a club of Yees – was, or why people were a part of it. With this play, I’ve been able to explore not only my own self-consciousness within my community, but it’s also shed light on how that is a universal experience. With every generation, there is a feeling of being unworthy and being unprepared to take up the cultural mantle. In a way, this play is a hero’s quest that celebrates those feelings of inadequacy.”

 

Established hundreds of years ago, family associations were a way to provide resources and community in the face of the discrimination that so many Chinese-American families experienced. These mainly men’s clubs became very powerful over the years. However, as a new generation began to take its place in world, these groups that limited the roles of women among other things, were often viewed as obsolete and unappealing.

 

King of the Yees examines that waning influence and the emotional impact on families in a performance that is infectious, interactive, metaphysical but always heartfelt.

 

Larry Yee, brilliantly played by Francis Jue, is the gregarious and engaging head of the Yee family association, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Yee line. Lauren (Stephenie Soohyun Park) is dismissive of the purpose and necessity of such a club and to the surprise and dismay of her father plans to move to Berlin with her Jewish husband. A disappointed Larry suddenly goes missing and Lauren’s frantic search for him takes her to an abstract world full of symbolism from the past with lessons for the future. That journey leads her not only to her father but to a better understanding of the family association and the community and traditions he is trying to preserve.

 

King of the Yees is filled with a small but versatile cast (Daniel Smith, Angel Lin and Rammel Chan) who capably play a variety of roles during the two-act production.

 

The set design is simple but effective, mainly consisting of a large ceremonial door that is very significant to the storyline. Also, the use of projections on the back wall of the stage was very creative. The design team includes William Boles (set), Izumi Inaba (costumes), Heather Gilbert (lighting), Mikhail Fiksel (sound) and Mike Tutaj (projections).  

 

Recommended.

 

King of the Yees runs through April 30 in the Owen Theatre at the Goodman. Tickets are available online at GoodmanTheatre.org/Yees.

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Gorgeous Musical Journey by Greyhound Richly Revives the Broadway Gem, Violet

12 December 2017 in Theatre Reviews

I was blown away by how great the score, acting and singing were in Griffin Theatre’s new show, Violet. I…

Chicago's Tap Theatre's "Tidings of Tap" brightens the holidays

11 December 2017 in Dance in Review

For those who may have missed this one time show on December 10th, The return of Tidings of Tap, was…

Review: 'Turandot' at Lyric Opera of Chicago

08 December 2017 in Theatre in Review

Finding love is hard. What someone else wants can sometimes be a riddle, but in the case of Puccini’s ‘Turandot’…

Beautiful: The Story of a Natural Woman

08 December 2017 in Theatre in Review

While I’d yet to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical since it premiered to much acclaim (and a U.S. tour)…

Gobsmacked Brings A Cappella to Chi-aca-cago!

08 December 2017 in Theatre Reviews

It’s fitting that the opening tune of Gobsmacked! declares, “Turn up the radio, blast your stereo right,” because the show…

"Rudolph the Red Hosed Reindeer" is Funnier and more Glamorous Than Ever in 2017!

05 December 2017 in Theatre in Review

This is Hell in a Handbag’s 15th Season and yet every year I look forward more than ever to seeing…

Almost Elton John's Christmas Concert Rocks The MAC

04 December 2017 in In Concert

The McAninch Arts Center (The MAC) located at the College of Dupage kicked off the holiday season with one of…

Joffrey’s "The Nutcracker" is a marvelous Christmas spectacle

04 December 2017 in Dance in Review

A delightful winter holiday ballet staple, Joffrey’s The Nutcracker gets a make-over by Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and Joffrey’s…

A Bromance for the Ages: Bizet's The Pearl Fishers at the Lyric

04 December 2017 in Theatre Reviews

The Pearl Fishers has been called Bizet’s most beautiful opera. Lyric’s electric production is certainly one of the most beautiful…

Goodman's "A Christmas Carol" still tops list for Holiday fun in Chicago

30 November 2017 in Theatre in Review

Chicago has no shortage of Christmas traditions. In other words, if you’re looking for holiday fun it’s not very hard…

TATC's A Wonderful Life is Wonderful Fun

23 November 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

The classic film It’s A Wonderful Life, based on the story The Greatest Gift, is brought to life by Theatre…

Kid Friendly, Parent Approved: Sleeping Beauty shines at Marriott Theatre

22 November 2017 in Theatre Reviews

This past week I found myself in a movie theater with reclining seats, an overpriced large popcorn, and a two…

 

 

10 Years! Fave Issue Covers

Register

Latest Articles

Guests Online

We have 493 guests and no members online

Buzz Chicago on Facebook Buzz Chicago on Twitter