(Chris Jones’s article appeared in The Chicago Tribune, 4/22.)
"Write about your own life" says many a writing teacher to many a young scribe. Confronted with
that authoritative solipsism, the young writer tends to worry about two things. First, that my life is not interesting enough to write about, especially not two or three times over. Second, my life is too disconnected, too esoteric, too darn individual to push any kind of universal button and actually mean anything to anyone else.
Well, the compelling argument presented at the Goodman Theatre by "The Happiest Song Plays Last,"
the delightful premiering play by Quiara Alegria Hudes, who won the Pulitzer Prize in drama just last year, would suggest that those writing teachers are exactly right.
Directed in Chicago by Edward Torres, this intensely engaging new drama is very much based on Hudes' own life, composed of a eclectic and unusual set of personal experiences and circumstances that really should not work as a unified play — this thing bounces between Philadelphia and the country of Jordan — but in fact works darn well, precisely because it is an eclectic and unusual set of experiences and circumstances that you could not imagine anyone inventing out of whole cloth. Life really can be better than fiction. And it's good for a liberal writer to have a military guy in the family.