Herzog, Amy. Belleville.
Publisher: TCG, 2014.
Premiere: Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT, 2011.
Settings: A one-bedroom apartment in the Belleville section of Paris; December
Characters: Abby & Zach, both Americans, 28; Alioune (male) & Amina, both Senegalese-French, 25.
Scene 1: Abby comes home unexpectedly and finds Zach masturbating with a porno. She seems very awkward. He goes to take a shower, and Alioune knocks at the door asking for Zach. Abby & Alioune have an awkward conversation during which it comes out that she’s missing her family at Christmas time but they can’t leave because of a visa problem. Zach’s shower finished, he and Alioune smoke a bowl while Abby takes a phone call from her father. Zack and Alioune discuss Abby’s clinical depression, and then Alioune says that he must have their 4 months of back rent or his uncle (who owns the building) will force him to evict them. After Alioune leaves, they have an awkward conversation, and then it looks like they are going to make love.
Scene 2 (Hours later): Abby’s dad calls to say that they are going to induce her sister’s labor. She stubs her toe, and Zach (a physician working for Doctors without Borders) “treats” it. They get ready for their D-A-T-E. Their conversation is very awkward.
Scene 3 (Hours later): When they get back, Abby’s very drunk, and Zack tries to treat her by giving her slices of a baguette and water, then he leaves to close the downstairs door. She inspects her toe and then uses the bread knife to trim her toenail, but she slips and cuts her toe. Lots of blood. As she’s going to the bathroom holding the bloody knife, Zack and Alioune enter arguing. They see her; she vomits.
Scene 4 (Half hour later): Zach is cleaning the blood off the floor as Alioune and Amina watch. Turns out they found him in their apartment; he was looking for pot (!?). Amina says he and Abby must leave or they’ll call the police about him breaking in to their apt. After Alioune and Amina leave, Zach takes his keys and leaves. The baby monitor, left behind by Amina, awakens Abby with the sound of the wailing baby.
Scene 5 (Next morning): Amina comes in to get the baby monitor. Eventually Zach tells Abby that they have to leave the apartment. And then he confesses that he never finished medical school and that his job at Doctors without Borders was all fake—he never had a job. The phone rings and they learn that her sister’s baby was born and all’s well. While she’s in the bedroom on the phone, he gets the knife, goes into the bathroom, blocks the door, runs water, and (apparently) slashes his wrists.
Scene 6 (Days later): Amina and Alioune are cleaning up the empty apartment. She forgives him.
A heavy, heavy play about deception, depression, and (perhaps) love.
Very traditional dramaturgy—balance, disturbance, rising action, climax, & denouement.
A psychological suspense play.
A real study in the management of foreshadowing—plants, pointers, and even a red herring or two abound.