Monday, October 31, 2011


The Mattel Toy Company created a fictional life for its best selling fashion doll Barbie more than five decades ago, giving her a collection of friends like Kelly, Krissy and Christie, a convertible car and a boyfriend named Ken.  Real life does not conform to these unrealistic images and happily-ever-afters didn’t work for anyone but Cinderella and Snow White.

Imagine for a moment if you really believed you lived a fairy tale life, married to your special love who is a courageous doctor searching for a cure for pediatric AIDS, residing in a loft in Paris, enjoying all the sweetness of life.  Enter the idyllic world of Abby and Zack as fashioned by Amy Herzog in “Belleville,” being produced by the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven until Saturday, November 12 as a world premiere.

The bohemian, artsy section of Paris known as Belleville could be a wonderful neighborhood for theater lovers, with outdoor cafes and galleries within strolling distance.  For Maria Dizzia’s Abby, it is a dream come true, on the surface at least.

If you probe a little deeper, remove a few protective layers, you realize all-too-quickly that Abby’s world is not so rosy.  She needs pills to keep herself mentally balanced and it doesn’t take anything major to tip her emotional scales out of kilter.

Abby and husband Zack (Greg Keller) are children playing grown-up.  To keep themselves together, she takes baths and booze and he relies on drugs and deception.  Ken and Barbie are due for a serious reality check and it starts when Abby unexpectedly comes home early one afternoon to find Zack is not at work where he is supposed to be.  With the entrance of their landlord Alioune (Gilbert Owuor) and his wife Amina (Pascale Armand) into their apartment, more unpleasant revelations become glaringly obvious.  Anne Kauffman directs this confusing confrontation surrounding the web of lies that is masquerading as a marriage.

For tickets ($20-88), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at York Street at 203-432-1234 or online at  Performances are Tuesday-Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday at 2 p.m.

Be careful as you enter the Parisian loft of Abby and Zack as it is littered with emotional land mines set to explode.

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