Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Picasso at The Lapin Agile"

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note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Kevin Killavey

"Picasso at The Lapin Agile"

Reviewed by Kevin Killavey

Theater Works latest production "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" has a dry wit and is filled with lots of intellectual humour, laugh out loud comedy and “Icebox laughs”. In his play author Steve Martin tries to capture what would happen if the two geniuses of Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein were to meet in the pre-dawn of their greatness. Einstein was of course working on his theory of relativity and Picasso about to enter the Rose phase of his artistic journey with Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Steve Martin is a profoundly intelligent writer, and the play is littered with wonderful treats for an art lover concerning the ever evolving artistic nature of Picasso. Joshua Smith did a fantastic job directing a very challenging play, as all the actors seem perfect in their roles and the show has a smooth pace and carefully crafted humour.

The Play opens in the Lapin Agile bar with owner Freddy, played by Ross Galvin, and the old and faithful barfly Gaston, played by Geoff White, both discussing the nature of ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay’s lyrics. Galvin plays Freddy in a measure and even tone, doing justice to the role Martin has written to be the enlightened buffoon, a difficult balance to find but Galvin does it nicely. Gaston is not just your typical dirty old man, and Geoff White with his booming and resonate voice has the audience in his grasp before he could say “Boom-de-ay”. White and Galvin both command tremendous stage time during the play, but often in a back burner role and they never slip out of character for a moment.

Then enter what i consider to be one of best character performances in I have ever seen, Padraig Mahoney as Albert Einstein. Mahoney enters in a sharp fitting, tailored suit which only goes to highlight the wonderful costumes by Sharon Charette. All the costumes in the play look fabulous, and are true to the time period. Mahoney does a flawless job as Albert Einstein, with a carefree wit and charm and a perfect German accent. His mannerisms and detailed character work as well sweet natural warmth makes his performance wonderful to watch. Einstein is followed and preceded in entrance by Freddy’s wife Germaine, played with wisdom and smoothness by Saoirse E. Parisian.

Then enters a gorgeous woman named Suzanne, played by Samantha Acampora, waits for Picasso, Einstein waxes philosophically and shows his mental prowess while claiming a women will be meeting him soon too (Also played by Acampora). Suzanne tells her tale of how Picasso wooed her, and Acampora commands the stage with her usual ease breathing a passionate life into her character. Acampora has a beast of a speech with her tale of her night with Picasso, but she handles it with ease and gives the story wonderful dynamics and playfulness.

Before Picasso can arrive an art critic named Sagot beats him there, played by Mark Anderson. Anderson looks great in his Green Vest and purple ascott, especially in front of the set Anderson himself did a fabulous job with, playing the cocky and hardened Sagot with a sly charm. Then bursts in Christopher Ferreira as Picasso with an off-the wall energy and enthusiasm. Ferreira gives Picasso a cocky swagger and carefree demeanor as he brags about his love of women, leaving a hurt Suzanne to listen. Here Acampora does some brilliant work, showing heartbreaking hurt and disappointment as she listens to Picasso rant. Acampora is going to shine this fall onstage at Rhode Island College in the role of Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker. As well as on screen with co-star Chistopher Ferreira in local playwright Lenny Schwartz debut as a screenwriter, Murder University (Premiering August 5th at CinemaWorld in Lincoln, RI).

The rest of the play begins the debate between Picasso and Einstein about the nature of genius, and what effect the two men will have on the 20th Century. The play is filled with great lines predicting the future, one of my favorites being “The World, led by Germany will usher in an era of Peace”. As well as more colorful characters like a Businessman named Schmendiman, with some terrible ideas and some good ones, played with a wonderful energy by Joey Rodriguez. Another spectacular appearance to rounds out the show, Andrew Mattera playing a certain 20th Century iconic singer on Blue (another fabulous costume). Mattera actually does a spot-on impression of the singer, with a fantastic comic timing and warm persona to boot.

"Picasso at the Lapin Agile" is about “taking the impossible and breathing it into life”, all the actors and crew of this production do this and create a charming, intelligent and joyful night of theater. Check out Theater Work’s production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile from May 11th-20th by calling 401-766-1898 for Reservations.

"Picasso at The Lapin Agile" (11 - 20 May)
@ The Masonic Temple, 142 Clinton Street, WOONSOCKET RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide