Belleville at the Donmar Warehouse
With Belleville, a play about a marriage in crisis, secrets and a lot of drama, director Michael Longhurst has crafted a well-rounded piece centred on the experience of two Americans living in Paris. Although this topic has been adapted over and over again in literature and on the big screen, this show captures the contrast between the American lifestyle and the European one in a subtle way that sets the tone for an uncomfortable, tense and unveiling drama.
Those who are not fans of intense melodramatic human stories don’t need to worry. Belleville is mainly characterised by an amazing cast with absolutely flawless performances by Imogen Poots and James Norton. They are not only convincing as a couple struggling to save their relationship but they also play wonderfully as individuals. As the story progresses it’s easy to realise how destructive these two human beings are, and how much pain they inflict on each other as a result. The loss of a mother, the birth of a child and some past regrets make up the main points of conflict, giving both actors the chance to elevate Amy Herzog’s script to a mesmerising level.
We can’t forget about the two supporting roles in this drama. Malachi Kirby and Faith Alabi complete the cast as the apartment’s landlord and his wife, living in the same building and clearly affected by the chaotic couple and their misadventures. Their dialogue is often in French and there is a realistic approach to the cultural differences in all the scenes the four performers have together.
The set is impeccable and very intimate. The rooms are displayed in such a way that the audience is placed at the same level as the stage, so we all feel as if we are inside this apartment with these characters. The colours and the design of the different rooms are very smart, setting the tone for the climax perfectly, as the action usually occurs between the kitchen, the bathroom and the living room.
This story of two “strangers in a strange land” is a definite must-see for any theatre (or movie) lovers in town.
Photo: Marc Brenner
Belleville is at the Donmar Warehouse from 7th December 2017 until 3rd February 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.