The Shawnee Theatre presents comedian Steve Martin’s play Picasso at the Lapin Agile in a production directed by Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson.
The setting is a Paris bar in 1904, the Lapin Agile, which really did exist. (Aspiring artist Pablo Picasso frequented it.) But Martin wrote then-aspiring physicist Albert Einstein into the setting. The result is a very funny show that also offers some potent insights into the looming Twentieth Century, and just how close art and science can seem.
Locals And Out-Of-Towners
The cast is a mix of area standouts and westerly imports, with a healthy group of actors from Iowa who were drawn to Shawnee by its new artistic directorm Brandon Bruce. Dave Cole, who’s familiar to Cardinal Stage and Brown County audiences, was very funny as Gaston, a man grudgingly—but thoughtfully—adjusting to old age. Jaddy Cucci, who’s been involved in past projects at IU, Brown County and the Bloomington Playwrights Project, played the sharp-tongued waitress Germaine.
Martin Gonzalez, the rueful club owner, comes to Shawnee from Illinois. Jake Ferree, who’s from St. Louis, appears in a role that Steve Martin modeled on his character in The Jerk: the manically cane-twirling, rubber-limbed Schmendiman.
The Iowa contingent was led by Luke Schares, who played a gentle, charming Einstein. Fellow Iowan Brian Quijada’s Picasso was a bit rougher—but lots of fun—as a testosterone-driven artist. Heather Michele Lawler, who had both the best diction and some of the funniest lines in the show, played the loves of the painter, the scientist, and even Schmendiman. Josh Sazon was the canny gallery owner, Sagot, and rounding out the Iowa quintet was Kyle Niemer, as the time-traveling visitor from the future, none other than the King: Elvis Presley.
Ironical Intelligence, But Not At The Expense Of The Physical
Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a very funny show. Every character is interesting and has something to say. The eighty minutes of the single act go by quickly. Irony is always one of author Steve Martin’s trademarks, and there’s plenty of it here, but the show strikes a nice balance between high and low humor.