Review of Picasso at the Lapin Agile
By Steve Martin
Directed by Matt Cadigan
For tickets / schedule :
Pegasus Theater Company
Graton Community Club, Graton

RUN: November 4-27, 2016
RATING: 3 of 5 stars

(November 12, 2016)

Picasso at the Lapin Agile Graton Pegasus Theater Company

Photo from Pegasus Theater Company

Penned by renowned comedian Steve Martin, Picasso at the Lapin Agile is an effervescent confection of comedy vaguely set in 1904, unburdened by historical accuracy. Blatant flirting with the Countess conveniently ignores that Einstein was a newlywed with an infant son by his physicist wife Mileva Marić, and characters regularly use modern slang to gain a laugh. Beulah Vega’s costumes are decidedly modern with touches of the turn-of-the-century, saved by Godey’s Lady’s Book Gibson girl hairstyles, which are superior to the attempts of most Edwardian plays. Characters flit in and out of the bar as the evening progresses, save for old Gaston (Jim Maresca) who’s wistful comments on aging and the pursuit of beauty ground the production in his down-to-earth perspective.

As the name of the bar suggests, this play is a “Nimble Rabbit” hopping from one topic to the next, bouncing between sub plots and scenes, loosely held together by a central thread that ideas and concepts are worth pursuing. Einstein and Picasso shift from adversaries to brothers discussing the origins of creative thought. Both are poised on the verge of greatness, moments before their careers set them apart as geniuses. The play is overly conscious of that fact, placing intense emphasis on “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” and the Theory of Relativity, although Einstein’s repartee with Germaine regarding adding illustrations to liven up his book is quite amusing. Steve Martin gathers a collection of intelligent, lively characters in an informal setting to toss out notions and opinions simply for the sake of an entertaining evening.

Capturing romantic spark and tension are the clever bartenders Freddy (James Rowan) and Germaine (Tricia Siegel) who fearlessly interrupt to improve the caliber of conversation. Sagot’s (Arnold House) brief appearance is memorable and lighthearted, glowing with enthusiasm for the world of art. Rush Cosgrove’s Picasso is an arrogant womanizer who is confronted with his flaws by Germaine’s insight. He initially clashes with Einstein, leading to a ferocious duel with pencils to napkin for the perfect drawing. Matlock Zumsteg’s Einstein oozes bravado and the youthful ambition that his banal job with the patent office is a temporary setback. The ensemble is exuberant and silly, while giving justice to their characters and acknowledging the import of an evening with Einstein and Picasso.

Join two intellectual giants on a pub crawl through the early 20th century; Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a relaxing divertissement of ideas doused in absinthe and frivolity.