Belleville Review – The Perfect Life

Tomas Pais and Heidi Ramee in BELLEVILLE - Photo by Maria Proios
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Penned by up-and-coming playwright Amy Herzog, BELLEVILLE is a deceptively simple tale which goes in several directions before landing at its inevitable conclusion. Commissioned and first produced at the Yale Repertory Theater in 2011, BELLEVILLE is the Crimson Square’s latest drama for 2022.

Andrew Tyree and Tomas Pais – Photo by Maria Proios

Set in the Belleville quarter of Paris, a newly married American couple have decided to live the life of Parisian ex-patriots enjoying the bohemian lifestyle of times past in the famed “City of Lights.” Zack (Tomas Pais) and Abby (Heidi Ramee) decided to move to Paris, where Zack has been promised a computer research position, so that they could start off their married life literally “living the dream.” Theirs is a story which many would envy. Everything seems just perfect – but is it? Bit by bit, small unexpected events are creating tension in the relationship. Why is it that Abby comes home unexpectedly in the afternoon to find Zack in the apartment? When he should be at work? And why is he turning more and more to the bliss offered by smoking pot? At the same time, what is going on with Abby, who seems to be forgetting her psychiatric medication more and more frequently? And getting pretty manicky in the process?  And has taken to drinking more than is good for her? For that matter, why is the apartment manager Alioune (Andrew Tyree) repeatedly asking for the rent? And why is his wife Amina (Olabisi Kovabei) getting on his case? Something is clearly amiss as the tension begins to build in the small one-bedroom apartment.

Andrew Tyree and Olabisi Kovabel – Photo by Maria Proios

Author Herzog’s strength is in taking the humdrum bits and pieces of everyone’s daily life and turning them into the roller coaster to hell? Pais and Ramee do a superb job of making those bits come alive effortlessly with the tiniest of glances and shrugs. These are two likeable people whose “dream” – the one they’re living – is beginning to unravel as they persist in denial and fantasy. Artfully directed by Benjamin Burt, BELLEVILLE doesn’t give the audience a clue about the direction the story will take – until it does. Everything seems so quiet and uneventful – until it isn’t. A mildly boring look at two people’s daily goings-on takes a 180 degree turn into an unexpected thriller.

Heidi Ramee – Photo by Maria Proios

With set design by CS Build Team, wardrobe by Nancy Paley, graphic design by Jeffrey Sun, sound design by Miles Cooper and Jeffrey Sun, and lighting design by Derrick McDaniels, the entire production team works together to make the setting fill the bill.

Olabisi Kovabel, Andrew Tyree, and Tomas Pais – Photo by Maria Proios

BELLEVILLE runs through November 20, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 7 p.m. on Sundays. Crimson Square performs at the Beverly Hills Playhouse located at 254 South Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Tickets are $35. For information and reservations, call 323-657-5992 or go online.


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