|Michael D. Blum and Aida Leguizamon in The Happiest Song Plays Last (Dangerpants Photography)|
The Happiest Song Plays Last
(at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through April 14, 2018
Quiara Alegria Hudes is one of our country’s powerful, female playwrights and her work is becoming more ubiquitous in production. Theatre22 brought us a gorgeous (and Gypsy-award winning) production of Water By the Spoonful in 2015 which was the second part of a trilogy. Now, they’ve mounted the third part, The Happiest Song Plays Last.
Cousins Yaz (Aida Leguizamon) and Elliot (Joshua Chessin-Yudin) are separated in two different worlds here. It’s an uneasy pairing of circumstances and in some ways that makes the play feel uneven. Elliot has gone to the country of Jordan to work on a war film, using his background as an Iraq War vet. He stumbles into a starring role as an action hero, having been hired initially to be the boot camp trainer for the actors, helping them feel the reality of their roles.
Yaz has moved back to her aunt’s North Philadelphia home to try to make their old neighborhood a better place, literally feeding the neighbors to develop community connection. Both Yaz and Elliot are lonely souls and a bit hardened against romantic relationships, but in this “episode,” love creeps into their lives in unexpected ways.