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"Two Sisters and a Piano"

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When, some years ago, I saw Nilo Cruz's Dancing on Her Knees at the Public, it felt like the worst play ever. Cruz's latest, Two Sisters and a Piano, again at the Public, is a step forward; it feels like the second-worst play ever: the clumsiest, often unbelievable, linguistically barren, and generally derivative melodrama. If the subject were not Castro's Cuba, Cruz not a Cuban-American, and affirmative action not alive and well in the theater, this claptrap would never have been mounted.

It is passably acted by Adriana Sevan, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Gary Perez, but Paul Calderon, despite his name, is much more African-American than Hispanic. The fumbling director, Loretta Greco, absurdly has the cast speak with Spanish accents; Robert Brill's set, even on a shoestring, could have been less wretched. At least it is on a par with Nilo Cruz's writing.


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