note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Beverly Creasey
Steve Martinís antic PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE (at New Repertory Theatre thru May 10th) brings together Albert Einstein, Picasso and a dubious third genius to discuss quantum physics, quantum leaps in art and a new building material with equal quantities asbestos and radon. (Maybe the architect isnít such a genius after all.) Itís 1904 and the world is about to explode with ideas and inventions, some revolutionary, some dreadful.
Martinís comedy always struck me as (just) immensely clever but director Daniel Gidronís version has made me change my mind. Thereís more ďthereĒ there than I had thought. Itís still plenty silly but Gidronís production had me listening (and trying my darndest to grasp) Einsteinís explanation of time and space!
You couldnít ask for a better cast. Neil A. Casey brings his comic genius to the role of Einstein but he doesnít make him an airhead (like other productions tend to). Gidron humanizes the characters so they donít become caricatures. Paul D. Farwell makes the old geezer more of a charming philosopher than a running gag about ďthe process of elimination.Ē Dennis Trainor, likewise, makes Schmendiman sweet and sympathetic, in a wacky way, of course.
I could watch Marianna Bassham faint all day, her timing is such perfectionóand when she eats her apron---well, is there anything funnier? Owen Doyle has a grand time as the crusty barkeep (in Cristina Todescoís sparkly, belle epoch set); Scott Sweat captures Picassoís earthy life force and Stacy Fischer flits about as three femme fatales; Scott H. Severance brings an over the top gusto to the extravagant art dealer and Christopher James Webb gives the visitor from the future just a touch of the perplexed, making him real, as well. What a pleasant surprise. This time, in this space, all the elements converge to form comedic gold.