Amy Herzog is known for her facility with dialogue, and in her ensemble play Belleville, she uses that facility to explore two rather complex psyches in a marriage that’s more disturbed than anyone realizes. Herzog wastes no time setting up the nature of the relationship between the two main characters-married Americans Zack and Abby, who have ostensibly moved to the Belleville neighborhood of Paris for recent medical school graduate Zack to do research and provide medical care to pediatric AIDS patients. From the start, it’s clear that mistrust and insecurity simmer just under the surface of their marriage, and as it turns out, there’s a good reason for that. Early in the play, Herzog paints a picture of a disturbed young woman and a frustrated husband who gave up a career opportunity for what she wanted (or what he made himself believe she wanted). From the beginning, there’s something vaguely unsettling about the world Herzog creates. Affectingly atmospheric, the play is peppered with moments that manage to evoke without a shred of spoken dialogue. When the characters are speaking, the drama is as much about what’s not being said as what is. With a simple story structure but richly complex psyches, Belleville is a gripping psychological thriller imbued with a constant sense of danger-like watching a driverless car careening down the highway.
Belleville guide sections