A riveting theatre experience is something you are not going to forget anytime soon. The Company Theatre’s production of Amy Herzog’s Belleville is just such an experience, combining simple production techniques, sophisticated acting, and a story that will shake you.
Belleville follows an American couple – Zack (Allan Hawco) and Abby (Christine Horne) – as they live their life in the promising neighbourhood of Belleville, Paris. This very-much-in-love couple seem to have their life in order: Zach pursuing a noble career through his work at Doctors Without Borders, Abby teaching drama, and both living in beautiful Paris. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse when Abby finds Zach at home one day, when he was actually supposed to be at work. The chain of events that follow rock their seemingly planned lives, revealing dark secrets and hidden personalities.
Amy Herzog’s play made its world introduction in October of 2011, commissioned by the Yale Repertory Theatre. It then went on to grace the off-Broadway stages of New York Theatre Workshop in 2013. Both Anne Kauffman-directed productions put Herzog and her work under the spotlight, with the play receiving many notable award nominations. To be honest, its not difficult to see why. Her seemingly ordinary, about-everyday-life story tackles a variety of complex themes and elements surrounding relationships head-on. Herzog uses relationship elements such as trust, respect and love – in various pivotal moments – as catalysts to chip away at the lovely outer shell these characters seem to be in, revealing deeper, darker and more unbalanced human beings. It is a story that will keep you on edge, keeping you guessing on what will happen next.
The casting decisions for this production could not have been more brilliant. The four artists become the pillars to this rather deep production, putting on performances that you genuinely enjoy watching. Allan Hawco returns to the stage and proves just how much of a multi-talented individual he is. He plays an almost opposite character to that of his Jake Doyle, balancing the humour, dark elements and moments of intensity rather well. Dalmar Abuzeid and Marsha Regis do a wonderful job of presenting the French couple they portray, nailing the Parisian accent, creating a good balance between speaking English and French, and certainly creating an opportunity for the audience to really compare the American couple to the society they are now living in. The shows highlight, however, was the performance delivered by Christine Horne. Known for playing a diverse range of characters, he performance as Abby keeps you both glued to the production and on edge, constantly. She almost glides through transitions between sanity and insanity, creating a character that you just can’t describe. In fact, you will still be thinking about it the next day and still trying to understand how she pulled it off.
The production itself had elements you will come to love. Notably, the lighting and the set. The set is beautifully put together, featuring typical furnishings, soothing colours, and more depth than you realize. It never distracts you from whats happening between the characters but becomes a vital element to highlight things that were not the characters themselves. That is rather effective, especially if you can see that level of detail from the back of the theatre. The lighting played a big role in transitioning scenes and its simple application really made a difference to how the story was experienced. It was never in your face and it certainly didn’t become a distraction. Overall, the creative aspects of the production were very well executed.
Belleville by The Company Theatre is a beautiful production; a character study with an intense story. From the moment it begins till the very end, you will be captured by the events that take place on stage. The one thing you are guaranteed to take away from this production are the remarkable performances delivered by these four Canadian artists. Whether you are a die hard follower of Amy Herzog’s work or introduced for the first time, you can’t overlook the effort these four artists have put into their performances. That alone makes this show worth watching.
Belleville runs April 6th – May 4th at the Berkeley Street Theatre. For tickets, visit HERE