Wednesday, April 25, 2018


BELLEVILLE by Amy Herzog 

Thomas Sadoski and Anna Camp in Belleville at Pasadena Playhouse. Photo by Philicia Endelman
  The Parisian neighborhood of Belleville, is about three miles to the east and bit north of The Louvre via Rue de Rivoli.  Just to orient us to the "City of Light." It is a really big city. 
The story:  an attractive ex patriot couple  Abby and Zach (excellent Anna Camp and Thomas Sadoski) have found their way from the east coast of the United States to Paris for reasons that are only marginally clear. And, there by hangs the tale

Abby and Zach's charming apartment is managed by Alioune (Moe Jeudy-Lamour), a handsome and easy going young black man. He is well spoken and an occasional 420 pal with Zach whose only problem is not pot. Alioune and his beautiful wife, Amina (Sharon Pierre-Louis) are parents of two small children. Zach has not paid the rent. His entire story that Abby has believed all along is coming undone.  They are coming undone. 

Press information for BELLEVILLE announces a "Hitchcock stylethriller.  Un piece de theatre par dramaturge Amy Herzog. (French is spoken occasionally as the story reveals itself.)  An hour and forty five minutes into the overly talky production with letter perfect acting by the actors: refreshingly American Sadoski and Camp and Juedy-Lamour and Pierre-Louis with what might be Carribian accents also avec les accents Francaises, the delivery of the mystery remained a mystery.

Promised twists and turns with what felt to me like Neil Simon taking a sharp turn to the left down a one way alley were only slightly forthcoming.  Subtle sex scenes and why Zach, who supposedly is in Paris to do his work as a medical doctor with les enfants avec les AIDS is at home and caught in a compromising activity when Abby arrives unexpectedly has moments, but the story all together is mostly inconsequential.  

As the final strokes of the play come to a climax, the entire charade perpetrated by Zachunravels. Abby gets sloppy drunk. Quelle domage! Then, revelations that include Abby's concern over her pregnant sister at home in New Jersey with contractions coming every five minutes, overdue rent;  Zach's probable pot addiction and, Abby being off her 'psychiatric meds' to keep her on an even keel, it's a lot to gather in!  The unfolding  revelations for the couple are burdened with the real shame of coming all the way to Paris and living with and loving someone for all the wrong reasons.  

David Meyer's gorgeous  set is stunning, featuring a familiar winding staircase leading up to the flat.   Director Jenna Worsham has not taken into consideration that on the traditional Playhouse stage, there are areas that may be visible for the first few rows of the audience, but to stage what was, apparently, a vital scene almost to the down right apron is lost to the entire house.  Lighting issues that involve a glass top coffee table create reflections and shadows outside the proscenium. 

BELLEVILLE is one of those traditional stage plays that leads its audience down the garden path with well experienced actors, an expensive professional set and all, but the "Hitchcockian" payoff was momentary and was then extended with a denouement that made no sense at all

BELLEVILLE by Amy Herzog
Pasadena Playhouse
39 S. El Molino Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
Continues through May 13, 2018
Tickets and information 
626 356 7529

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