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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"Belleville" by Amy Herzog @ Third Rail Rep

There are certainly things to praise in Third Rail's "Belleville. There's the performance of Issac Lamb as Zack, a lovable goof. There are interesting plot-points in Herzog's script. But, virtually nothing was resolved to my satisfaction. One small example: Zack is indeed a stoner extraordinaire, but there is a scene in which he is caught lurking in the neighbor's apartment in the middle of the night, his excuse is that he was looking for the neighbor's stash of marijuana because he had run out of his own. That just didn't add up to me. Not in the moment, because I didn't believe someone would do that for marijuana, especially since that neighbor is also the landlord and Zack owes him quite a bit of money. Then I flashed back to it after the unexpected bit of violence at the end, were his motives far more sinister and he just got caught? We're never told. I was so confused by nearly everything that I read the NY Times review because I was sure I had missed something. One thing the Times review noted was that the pornography Zack is caught watching when his wife returns home earlier than expected, was "violent" Really? All I remember is pretty standard moaning. Zack happens to discuss the incident with the landlord pre-break-in and the landlord asks, "was it nasty shit?" and Zack says yes, but mentions nothing of violence. But in light of the break-in, and bloody ending, again,  was Zack's motive predatory? The play's final scene is rendered entirely in untranslated French dialogue, and that registered with me as Herzog's version of an elementary schooler's sing-song taunt, "I'm not going to tell you." Well,  Ms. Herzog, you also neglected to make me care enough in the first place. I'm certainly less enthused about seeing another Herzog play coming soon to Artist's Rep.

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