Saturday, 20 July 2013 19:00

"Belleville": The bloody, watery messes we make when we love and lie Featured

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bellevilleIn a posh French flat in the Parisian neighborhood of Belleville, Abby walks in on her new husband Zack masturbating to porn. The Americans are living the dream: she teaches yoga in her fantasy city, he saves lives with Doctors without Borders, and the two couldn't be more in amour. But this discovery is the first in a series of cracks which erupt in a shocking climax that warns against perfection, lies, and living for others.

Amy Herzog's "Belleville," commissioned and premiered by Yale Repertory Theatre where she received her M.F.A, powerfully closes the Steppenwolf's "The Reckoning" season. Directed by Anne Kauffman, who helmed the premier and Off-Broadway incarnations, the 100-minute play is raw, funny, and startling. Herzog's contemporary-set script still creates a traditional playground for the Steppenwolf design team. Greek and Shakespearean imagery – blood, water, daggers – appear alongside cell phones and a luxurious French apartment with plenty of natural light to expose the wounds within.

The wounds are suffered by four characters, breathed by life by a talented ensemble – Kate Arrington and Cliff Chamberlain shock, move, and scare as the destructive couple Abby and Zack. Chris Boykin and Alana Arenas entertain, ground, and reveal as Alioune and Amina, the couple who live a few floors down who own the building. While the landlord couple cares for a newborn, have a thriving property management business, and seem to make their relationship work, Zack smokes weed, Abby pops pills, and the pair fight and torture themselves and one another. At opposite ends of the alphabet, A and Z shouldn't be together; meanwhile, Alioune and Amina are A synchronized pair.

"Belleville" is an edgy, existential thriller, brilliantly brought to life by powerhouse performers, designers, and a director. It's not a feel-good play, although I did feel good as I left – impressed by its execution, haunted by a Herzog's warning, and glad to be single.

"Belleville" is a tenant in the Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre from June 27 – August 25, 2013. For more information and tickets, visit



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