Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

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By Ron Irwin
Observer Staff Writer 

Amazing Set, Acting Excellent, But Confusing Message

'Species Native to California' at The Atwater Village Theatre


Dean Cechvala

Tim Rock and Margaux Susi

Imagine a family living on a beautiful farm by a lovely pond in Northern or perhaps Central California. There is a large family home and another smaller home occupied by an immigrant woman and her son who help take care of the property.

The father is in charge but he is a bit of a hippie. So when the fabled drought hit him he simply didn't bother to read the letters from the bank.

The vineyards had shriveled and the income had fallen sharply and he figured that if the lender had something really important to say they would call rather than merely send a letter or two or three.

Then one day one of his beautiful daughters comes back home for a visit. She went to college and got a good job in Silicon Valley but she has returned with a very serious boyfriend. Dad is not impressed. But when the daughter learns of the seriousness of dad's financial woes she asks her boyfriend if he will help and he agrees.

But then dad dies suddenly and very unexpectedly and relationships rapidly unwind. Where is all of this going and what will be the final outcome? That folks is where you to get up and go over to Atwater Village Theatre and watch "Species Native to California."

I will tell you I was intrigued because in many ways this show seems to favor the happy life of what we once called a hippie life style and frowns heavily upon big business.

Dean Cechvala

Tom Amandes and Melissa Stephens

Yet when the boyfriend does indeed save the farm it is under terms far different than those enjoyed by the family yet the farm is saved and has a shot at returning to profitability while the daughters head for India to join their long gone mother.

The set was amazing, the acting excellent but to me the message somewhat confusing. It seems to suggest that if you can identify white sage you are a good person but if financial survival tops your priority list you are at least suspicious and most likely evil. All that said it is entertaining and you may see it now through June 11th at The Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Reservations and ticketing are available at: or by calling: 323-380-8843.

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