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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Long Island Play Project

    The title of the play Two Sisters and a Piano gives away its most important elements. Amidst the turmoil and adversity facing Cubans during Fidel Castro’s regime, all anyone had was their family and home. Since they were not allowed to venture outside, the victims had to create their own alternative world to escape to. From the beginning it is clear that the two sisters Maria Celia and Sofia are trapped in a home filled with art, music, literature, and nostalgia.

    The sisters assert their characters very well in just the first scene alone. Maria Celia, the older sister played by Ilfanesh Hadera, seems to be a good mother figure in that she has the ability to appear young and old at the same time. She has much wisdom in her, but there seems to be something yearning beneath the surface. She is clearly plagued by her house arrest, but she has another motivation behind it. She is very much in love with her husband who is away at war. Her letters to him are the only connection between them.

    Maria Celia is also a writer and one can sense this helps her to hang on. Sofia, played by Janine Fittipaldi, is an endearingly humorous contrast as she is clearly an ing’eacute;nue with many girlish dreams and desires. And she puts as much passion into her discourse about men and eroticism as she does into her piano playing. It is hard to take your eyes off of her as she soulfully plays with eyes closed and arms gliding across the keys. Their connection is so strong that you sense the literature and music is taking the place of family members in the house.

    The art is very symbolic here. Not only are the art and romantic desires central elements, but they also serve as escapes that transport the sisters from house arrest to a place where they can be happy and free to be themselves.

    The men in this play serve important purposes in this play to fuel the women’s desires and give them distractions. In Act I, Sofia is smitten with Victor Manuel, played by Dan De Jesus – a charismatic, funny piano repairman who seems almost unfazed by the current political situation. The man in Maria Celia’s life brings much more drama, conflict, and passion to this play. Lieutenant Portuondo, played by Richard Ferreiro, is a frequent houseguest for the two sisters. He develops a relationship with Maria Celia over the countless letters from her husband.

    Lieutenant Portuondo is Maria’s only connection to her husband, and it is only through him that she can read his correspondence. As the play progresses, the Lieutenant develops very strong feelings for Maria Celia. Ferreiro’s acting here is particularly strong in that the audience can keenly feel his yearning and desire even though he is trying desperately to hide it from his love interest.

    The second act of this play is somewhat reminiscent of a girls’ dorm room. The script and setting really reflect the sweetness of female companionship. These sisters can always make each other feel better by laughing about the past, lamenting the present, and dreaming about the future. However, it seems as if the small world of comfort that the girls created for themselves gets turned upside the down the night Lieutenant Portuondo comes over with some alcohol. He ends up finally confessing his feelings to Maria Celia and making love to her.

    This was a very powerful scene in that the audience could really sense the lovers’ need to connect emotionally and physically. After this union, nothing is the same. Maria starts letting go and wearing her hair down, the friendship between the sisters diminishes, and one can sense Sofia being particularly thrown and annoyed by having the Lieutenant in her home all the time. Like college relationships, Maria and the Lieutenant become deeply immersed in each other extremely fast, and Maria is less focused on her sister.

    Sofia seems almost jealous that Maria found an escape while she, in turn, is left alone with her thoughts and desires. This shift really illustrates what a man can do to a solid relationship between two women. It is scary to think that a woman can easily throw away all her loyalties and bonds to a friend as soon as a man comes in to sweep her away.

    This play was extremely rich. The actresses did a fabulous job portraying a myriad of emotions as they wrote, played, danced, laughed, cried, and reminisced. The actors added some turbulence and much needed excitement to the sisters’ lives. The elements of art and love as a means of escape created a beautiful groundwork for the piece and made it very aesthetically pleasing. The message of sisterhood and escape stays with you. Because at the end of the day, all we have is our loved ones and our memories.

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