“Picasso at the Lapin Agile has been entertaining audiences for years. It has seen productions in Chicago (1993), at Harvard’s American Repertory Theater (1994), LA, New York (Promenade Theater, 1995-96), and San Francisco (1998). It has fascinated audiences of the masses and set records as a “longest running show.” It won the 1996 Outer Critics Circle Awards for best play and best writer. Oh, and a little known fact: The first reading of this play took place in Beverly Hills at Steve Martin’s home with Tom Hanks reading Picasso and Chris Sarandon reading Einstein.”
The play is based on the improbable but not impossible premise that Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein meet in a Parisian bar in 1904 and exchange verbal – and sometimes physical – duels about ideas and come to the conclusion that art and science are equal in value.
Shane Kegler’s Einstien character seamlessly swings between a suave ladies’ man and nerdy scientist who is overly assertive of his intellectual abilities and at times ode’s a nod to Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory) with his laugh. Jon Carpenter’s Picasso is a bit more arrogant and somewhat less affable than his scientific counterpart and presents a side of the artist that is less “traditional-artsy” and may subliminally help explain the inspiration behind his disfigured paintings. Adam Leidemer plays the role of Freddy, the owner and head bartender, with a broad physical style of humor that, in review is reflective of the author’s own performance style.
The supporting elements of the show, including actors Jim Dehls, Alyson Fowler, Adam Greczkowski, Mark McNally and Nicole Panteleakas were equally enjoyable to watch as their strategically placed one-liners, or in some cases, 40-second monologues were presented to the audience in a way that kept the need for exposition to a minimum. On the whole, the cast’s timing was flawless, with lines and laughs flying fast and furious.
Directed by Tonya Leigh Brock, the whole production is staged in such a way that it’s hard to lose focus. Brock uses the multiple levels as a way to center the energy of the scene without losing the ambience of the setting. Although the bar is set in Paris, none of the actors possess a French accent, which is probably a smart choice. With the cadences of dialogue happening so quickly and on point – an attempted accent would only make it difficult to follow.
The set is simple and incorporates the structural features of the theater space nicely. The lighting stays simple with a general wash, cued not to upstage the rapid dialogue and seems to flaw only with an occasional interruption on the projected sheep painting on the back wall (only when the bar door opens).
Picasso at the Lapin Agile plays at The Black Box Theater in Putnam from January 27 – Feb 4 with shows on Friday & Saturday at 8:00pm. For more information or to make your reservations, call 860/963.7170. This production is produced in arrangement with Samuel French.