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Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a unique performance

Alyssa Hohman

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Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein are not two names that are often associated, yet in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” that is exactly what happens. The main stage production ran from Wednesday to Sunday ofthis past week, writtenby Steve Martin, as in “The Pink Panther,” and the play is extremely unique.

Taking place in a bar, the Lapin Agile, in 1904 Pairs, France. The first couple characters are the local bar tender, Freddy (Garrett Michael Cameron), and Gaston (Chad Fess), a grumpy old Frenchman. The exchanges between thetwo characters indicate that Gaston is a frequent visitor of the bar. All of a sudden, in rushes no one other than Albert Einstein (Jeff Young), who quickly starts rambling on about how he is supposed to meet a girl. He explains to Freddy and Gaston that he was supposed to meet this woman at the Bar Rouge but that it makes no difference if he meets her at the Lapin Agile because she is just as likely to come there — quickly confusing the other two men.

After Einstein stops talking and Freddy inserts that Einstein has come in too soon. Freddy grabs a program from behind the bar and explains that the names are listed in order of appearance and that Einstein is supposed to be the fourth person to enter, not the third. Einstein quickly rushes off the stage and shortly after the audience is introduced to Germaine, the bar tender’s tardy and rude wife. When Einstein returns he very quickly runs through his lines again, getting a good laugh from the crowd.

Another significant character was Suzane (Annie Etchison). She comes to the bar hoping to see Picasso. She recounts her romantic encounter with Picasso and details how she hopes to meet him again. She also brags that he gave her a sketch.

Picasso (Bobby Wilhelmson) finally enters and he is confident and obnoxious. He is a womanizer and deeply offends Suzane. There are countless sexual jokes throughout the entirety of the play, but they increased in frequency, significantly once Picasso entered.

Einstein and Picasso each struggle to deal with the work done by the other. Neither understands the significance of the other’s work. Picasso, an artist, cannot possibly understand how Einstein’s work is art.

Einstein tries to explain how his work is art to Picasso and all of the others, with little impact. He impresses them all with his incredible intellect as he solves an incredibly lengthy word problem from Freddy.

Einstein and Picasso alsoengage in an “art off.” The two create something they consider valuable art and then compare. Picasso is offended when Einstein exclaims that the drawing is nothing more than a formula, just like his. The two finally discuss where they get inspiration from their work and then come to realize that they are not as different as they thought.

There are a few other colorful characters in the piece but the last character to be introduced is a time traveler, implied to be Elvis. The play gets a little weird here. Some ofPicasso’s art falls from the sky, they then see their names written in the stars and there is a moment of clarity for both Einstein and Picasso. Both men realized that their work is significant but they will not be single-handedly shaping the century.

The actors all did an excellent job with their parts; Einstein was my personal favorite. Jeff Young did a phenomenal job bringing the quirky character to life. The play itself was a bit odd, especially at the end but it was an enjoyable experience for all.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a unique performance