Stretched tight between the residue of the saccharine sweetness of the American dream, the looming threat of nuclear war, and the heartbreak of the Kennedy assassination in 1963, lies Hope: Part II of A Mexican Trilogy. A follow-up to Faith, the first play in the trilogy by Evelina Fernández, which tells the story of the Morales family gathering their bearings after the Mexican Revolution, Hope picks up with them facing a rapidly changing America.
The first half is predictable; scenes are punctuated with snippets of doo-wop classics such as “Dedicated to the One I Love.” However, the interest is in watching the false facade slowly crumble. Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel is quietly devastating as Elena, mother of four lively children. A kind mouse of a woman, she holds her family together against the ravages of a flagrantly cheating husband, played by a sobering Eddie Martinez. Aysette Muñoz crackles as Gina, the oldest daughter, who tries to parent both her family and her boyfriend Rudy, played by an eternally entertaining Tommy Rivera-Vega.
The second half is beautifully devastating; Janyce Caraballo portrays younger sister Betty, whose coming of age is told through a clever staging device and framed by ominous news events such as the Cuban missile crisis. Pocket wisdom tells us that the truth is valued above all, but as Elena warns her daughter, “There is a cost to telling the truth,” and this story argues that perhaps preserving hope is worth the cost of telling a lie. v