Entertaining PICASSO at HP&P

by Jessica Martin

Ian Kimble, Tommy Balne as Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso. Only in the comedic mind of Steve Martin could these two geniuses meet in PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE at Haddonfield Plays and Players. (Photo credit: David Gold)

PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE, now in production at Haddonfield Plays and Players, depicts an imaginary encounter between two great geniuses of the twentieth century, Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein, at a Parisian watering hole in the year 1904. Each would make an important contribution to the world within the next three years. But don’t worry, this is no dry dissertation on art and science—it was written by the clever comedian and sometimes “wild and crazy guy” Steve Martin, so you can expect plenty of humor, some of it ribald. There’s a lot of talk about sex and a running (pun intended) joke involving Gaston (Tom Skoufalos) and his many trips to the bathroom.

There is no real plot, just a fascinating interplay of characters. A studious-looking young man (Ian Kimble) enters the Lapin Agile (Nimble Rabbit), orders absinthe, and introduces himself as Albert Einstein. This leads to a momentary break in the “fourth wall” as Freddy (Scott Harris), the amiable owner/bartender, finds him out of the order listed in the program. The 25-year-old Einstein is working on his theory of relativity and waiting to meet a female admirer in another bar. A young woman, Suzanne (Ashley Thornton) arrives, looking for Picasso. She is one of his recent sexual conquests, and delivers a witty speech about men and Picasso in particular. She leaves before he arrives, but comes back later. Picasso (Tommy Baines), age 23, is egotistical, flamboyant and arrogant. He and Einstein debate the relative merits of art and science, culminating in an amusing Western-style “face-off” with the artist’s drawing and the scientist’s formula as “weapons.” Germaine (Kelly Cooper), a waitress and Freddy’s wife or girlfriend, gives  Picasso a piece of her astute mind about his sexist treatment of women. Sagot, the artist’s dealer, was actually a man but is well played by a woman, Christie Jensen. Schmendiman (Scott Ross), an inventor of building material, thinks he is a greater genius than Einstein or Picasso. Amy Riley plays both a countess and Einstein’s admirer. Finally, a mysterious visitor (Gary Werner) from the future arrives and adds a new dimension to the debate as all the characters look forward to the new (20th) century.

(Front Row) Ian Kimble, Tommy Balne, (Back Row) Kellie Cooper (Erial, NJ), Scott Harris, the cast of PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE at Haddonfield Plays and Players. (Photo credit: David Gold)

The play is in one act, less than two hours long with no intermission, but does not seem lengthy, thanks to the actors and the able direction of Tom Lorenz. The set is simple but effective, and the costumes, especially those of the women, are beautiful and appropriate. Standouts among the cast are Kimble and Baine as Einstein and Picasso, Skoufalos as Gaston, Cooper as Germaine, Thornton as Suzanne, and Harris as Freddy, but all are excellent. For an offbeat and entertaining evening in the theatre, PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE is highly recommended.

by Steve Martin
Directed by Tom Lorenz
September 13-29, 2012
Haddonfield Plays and Players
957 E. Atlantic Avenue
Haddonfield, NJ 08033
(856) 429-8139

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