Steppenwolf thrills with ‘Belleville’

The latest play showing at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company is “Belleville,” an emotional roller-coaster of a thriller, written by up-and-coming playwright Amy Herzog.

Set in the Parisian neighborhood of the same name, “Belleville” details the relationship of an American ex-pat couple seemingly living the dream. Wife Abby (Kate Arrington) is training to become a dancer, while husband Zach (Cliff Chamberlain) is a doctor, working to find an AIDS cure.

The couple is presented with conflict early on when friendly yet stern landlord Alouine (Chris Boykin) reminds Cliff that he is late on rent. It’s pretty much all downhill from there, as the newlywed couple find themselves irrevocably tangled in a net of lies and deceit.

Herzog teases the audience with an initial feeling of peace and romance, solidified by the idyllic French setting and what seems to be a real connection between the couple.  That all comes crashing down quickly in the hour and 45 minute “Belleville,” with an ending that is sure to stun audiences.

Also notable in this production is the inclusion of two DePaul alums, namely Boykin and Alana Arenas. Both do a spectacular job in their secondary roles, with flawless French accents and a convincing relationship dynamic.

Leads Arrington and Chamberlain excel in their roles as well, bringing the audience through highs and lows with ease. Set pieces, lighting and sound design in “Belleville” were all vivid and excellent, each of them working against each other to create a real sense of foreboding. Overall, the production excelled in nearly all aspects, and made for quite a thrilling piece of theater.

“Belleville” runs from June 27 to Aug. 25 at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in the Downstairs Theatre. Tickets are available at steppenwolf.org or by calling 312-335-1650.