A thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat, BELLEVILLE is the play currently performing at the Pasadena Playhouse, directed by Jenna Worsham.
It has been a mission of the Pasadena Playhouse, in its century-long history, to introduce its audiences to the work of contemporary artists. In due form, you can now experience BELLEVILLE, which was written by Amy Herzog on commission by the Yale Repertory Theatre, where it was first performed in October of 2011.
The story portrays an American couple living in Belleville, a neighborhood in Paris. The pair moved there so that the husband, Zack (played by Thomas Sadoski), could be further involved in a medical mission to fight pediatric AIDS. As the story develops, it becomes clear that the seemingly stable marriage is based on lies and that they barely know one another.
At the Playhouse, scenic designer David Meyer created a stage that very much looks like a Paris apartment. Sadoski, whom you may know from the CBS show “Life in Pieces,” has great chemistry with Anna Camp, who plays his wife Abby. You will probably recognize Camp from the Pitch Perfect movies, or perhaps from the popular Mad Men series. Together they deliver one hour and 40 minutes (no intermission) of pure suspense, as you wait for something terrible to happen, and it does, and with a twist. Also in the cast are Moe Jeudy-Lamour as Alioune, and Sharon Pierre-Louis as Amina. They portray a Muslim couple whose marriage is a lot better connected than their American friends’.
The play is in English with a few lines in French. The majority of those lines are not terribly distracting to the English-only speaking audience, as one can assume what is being said based on context. That is, up to the final scene, which is an exchange between Alioune and Amina completely in French, leaving us non-French-speakers staring into the stage like deer caught in headlights. Yours truly could not take it. I bought the book just so that I could work out the translation. This I gift you with now:
Amina: “Yes. Incredible. Do you have the…”
Alioune: “The what?”
Amina: “I see it. It’s down there… What time is it?”
Alioune: “Um… one moment… Ten to five.”
Amina: “Oh. It’s still early.”
Alioune: “I’m sorry Amina… I’m sorry.”
Amina: “Yes. I heard you… I’m fine. It’s not a disaster.”
Amina: “In fact, no. Com’on. We have a lot of things to do.”
End of play
There. Quite simple once you know it, and yet simply maddening as you don’t. And now you are fully prepared to go experience BELLEVILLE! It performs Wednesday to Sunday through May 13, 2018. Prices start at $25 and tickets can be purchased at PasadenaPlayhouse.org or by calling (626) 356-7529. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Ave, in Pasadena 91101.