Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Picasso at The Lapin Agile"

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note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Beverly Creasey

Agile Relativity Play at Riverside

by Beverly Creasey

Steve Martin’s dramatic musings on matters relative, “Picasso at The Lapin Agile” gets a fine outing at the Riverside Theatre Works in Hyde Park. Martin’s resilient comedy transports Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, and a certain Mr. Schmendiman to a French boite in 1904, where they discuss the shape of things to come.

Through the character of Einstein, Martin speculates that “The world can hold a billion opinions.” Luckily for Martin, most of the opinions written about the play have been positively charged. “Picasso at The Lapin Agile” has a lot of funny characters, an abundance of one-liners, and happily, a good deal of heart. And it can withstand some pretty quirky performances.

This, the Hat Trick Company’s first production, is directed by Gerry Bova who also portrays Picasso --- not an easy task. His cubist-in-the-making, strangely enough, bears a stronger resemblance to Sid Caesar than he does to a Spanish tyrant --- but the comedy works nonetheless.

Some mighty strong performances hold Riverside’s expanding universe together: Brian Preston cuts an impressive swath as the amiable barkeep/owner of the cafe, and Sara Jones gives a lovely, nuanced performance as the apple of Picasso’s eye. Adam Rosencrance scores as the maniacal Schmendiman, whose concrete philosophy is delightfully insane. Bill Houldcroft, too, makes an adorable “King”.

The evening, however, belongs to Lorenzo K. Pizza as Einstein. Pizza’s timing is exquisite and his tender characterization makes the physicist wild and charming and eminently loveable, all at the same time.

Karen Lothrop’s costumes are tailored to each character: a rumpled suit for Einstein, chic velvet for the Countess, and a sexy bustier for Picasso’s model. Bruce Wilson and Brian Preston’s cafe set fits perfectly into the cavernous Riverside stage. With a nod to Mr. Einstein, the Energy alone makes this comedy a pleasure.

"Picasso at The Lapin Agile" (till 21 February)
45 Fairmont Street, HYDE PARK

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide