“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” Review

By Daniel Cobb

February 13, 2014

Einstein and Picasso walk into a bar. Sounds like an intellectual joke waiting to happen, doesn’t it? Well, it kind of is. “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” is Missouri Western’s latest foray into comedic theatre. Written in 1993 by legendary comedian and actor Steve Martin, “Picasso” definitely sounds like a must-see play.

Arriving in a bar initially to meet a woman, Einstein (Gabriel Barton) is about to publish his famous Theory of Relativity. As the bar begins to fill, talk of a young man named Pablo Picasso (Thomas Delgado) becomes more prevalent. Intrigued, Einstein learns as much as he can about this young artist who is apparently changing the world of art. It’s when Picasso actually arrives at the bar that Einstein must challenge himself to think in new ways.

Though Einstein and Picasso steal the spotlight more often than not, the other characters are given a spotlight of their own on numerous occasions. Be it the old bar stool, Gaston (Brian Duskey), or the oftentimes sarcastic bar owner, Freddie (Erik Burns-Sprung), each character is full of opinions that they gladly share throughout the duration of the play. This helps keep the narrative flowing smoothly, ensuring that everyone has a say in the current conversation.

The comedy is top-notch because it’s spread over several different genres. Gaston, for example, is only interested in alcohol and women, so most of his jokes reflect his overall attitude towards both. Suzanne (Nerissa Lee), incorporates wordplay and a few surreal situations when describing her love for Picasso. Every member of the cast is able to play off each other very well.

Some of the comedic situations will be offset by a silent moment of drinking by some of the bar patrons. This utilization of comic timing works to give the audience a moment to think about what was just said, and to introduce a new topic for the characters to discuss.

The acting all around is phenomenal, with each character bringing a new idea and persona to a room already overflowing with wit and charm. Of course, Picasso and Einstein are the highlights here, mainly because their interactions result in some of the more introspective moments of the play. Still, it’s hard to deny that each member of the cast brings something to the bar table.

“Picasso” is one of those plays that’s just plain funny. It’ll appeal to all sorts of audiences, and has an undeniable charm about its cast. If you’ve got the time, the Lapin Agile isn’t a bad place to spend it. Cheers!