If you are into true “think” theater, a play that has you thinking from the very start to the very finish, you will certainly enjoy the thriller, “Belleville” now on the satge at Steppenwolf”s downstairs venue. Written by Amy Herzog, this Chicago premiere is a tight, taught 100 minutes of pure psychological drama that takes us into the lives of two couples who are, for different reasons, residening in the small Parisian town of Belleville .Directed by Anne Kaufman on a set designed by James Schuette ( an apartment that appears to be ready to move into), this is a story about a couple , Abby ( the deliciously strong Kate Arrington) and her husband Zack ( Deftly handled by Cliff Chamberlain)- they are a hip pair of American expatriots who have chosen to leave behind their upscale lives to forge new frontiers.
The other couple in the story are their landlords,Alouine ( Chris Boykin) and his wife, Amina ( the always special Alana Aranas), younger, with children and lives that are under their full control. They are very different in every way- Abby has some mental problems and a strong tie with her father and sister, while Zack appears to have many hidden secrets. In fact, the opening of the play is one that will startle many. Abby comes home from a shopping expedition to find Zack home , in fact, in their bedroom masturbating. This is the start of her questioning their relationship and as uthe play progresses, we, the audience see more of what is splitting them apart.
On the other hand, our Immigrant couple shows that they have strong roots and work as a team in creating a life that is good for their children and each other. They have jobs, own property and are very much in love with each other and with life. Sadly, we do not see this type of relationship with our American couple. They are not as mature or responsible as this other couple that is younger- they have no idea as to where they are going and Zack uses drugs to make it through the day 9 or should I say, his life).
There are some very funny scenes, but this is by no means a comedy. In fact, one might call this thriller an American tragedy as once the can of worms is opened, the troubles between Zack and Abby multiply quickly leading us to an ending that will make you do a great deal of thinking about our world and our society. One of the deep questions that arises from this production is, “does anyone truly know the person they share their life with?”. We all have baggage and I am sure that many of the couples sitting in the theater have little secrets from the person they are with, but just how deep can they go? And how can one learn to cope with what becomes known along the way? Watching this thriller unfold will get you to question your own motives as well a sthose around you. If you are there for a “talk-back” stay! You will gain some insight into Herzog’s mindset as well as the creative handling by Kauffman. Be aware there is some language and some nudity as well as drugs ( replicated) and the story is not suitable for young people.
“Belleville” will continue at Steppenwolf Theatre through August 25th with performances as follows:
Tuesdays 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 3 and 7:30 p.m.
Sundays 3 and 7:30 p.m.
(on August 18th the 3 p.m. show will be replaced with a 1:30 p.m. ( TOUCH TOUR for the blind) and the 7:30 show will be at 3 p.m. as a Audio Described show
Tickets range from $20-$78 and can be purchased at the box office located at 1650 N. Halsted Street, by phone at 312-335-1650 or online at www.steppenwolf.org
$15 student tickets may e available for performances- check with audience services-promo “BELLEVILLE15”
There is street parking, garage parking and several local dining spots have valet parking. There are some meters of Halsted and on North Avenue and some other street spots as well. Public transportation is very easy.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click at “Belleville”