(Chris Jones’s article appeared in The Chicago Tribune, 9/29.)

In Noah Haidle's quixotic, gorgeous "Smokefall," the narrative begins with a young couple who have fallen in love. They get advice from someone much older — this romance will end in tragedy, he says. They all do. Someone walks out on someone else, the relationship a casualty of human imperfection or unexpected cruelty. Or death comes calling, wrenching child from mother, brother from brother, lover from lover, father from son, spouse from spouse.

We all know this, and the older we get and the more we see how life can change in an instant, the clearer the truth becomes. So what to do? Dig a hole for ourselves? Exist within a cone of self-protection? Love anyway, Haidle's deeply moving family drama argues. It is the courageous attempt to love, as distinct from the messy consequences of love, that gives our trivial lives — we are here for, like, five minutes, the play observes — the only meaning that is possible.


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