Montgomery Playhouse Picasso At The Lapin AgileBy Betsy Marks Delaney • Feb 9th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Rosborough Center, Gaithersburg MD
Through February 20th
$16/$14 Seniors and Students
Reviewed February 6th, 2011
Steve Martin’s sense of humor has always leaned toward the absurd, ever since his first appearances on Saturday Night Live back in the ’70s, but he has also been more on the cutting edge of the deeper meaning of humor and art than his early arrow-in-the-head styling of absurdity might indicate. Written in 1993, Martin’s first full-length play, Picasso At The Lapin Agile , starts right in with snappy jokes, demolishes the fourth wall, and then (without devolving to a thematic one-liner that starts with the words “Einstein walks into a bar…”) proceeds to examine genius through the eyes of two stellar creative minds — Albert Einstein (Jim Webner), and Pablo Picasso (Omar LaTiri) in two of the best comic performances I’ve seen this year.
The fictional meeting of these two minds takes place October 8, 1904, in Montmartre, Paris. Aided by some lovely sound design work by Patrick Hughes to set the mood, an exquisite set design by Jennifer Andrews, period appropriate costumes by Eleanor Dicks and lighting design by Steve Deming, we are guided into the turn of the last century by a deceptively simple montage of music that brings us to a bar called the Lapin Agile (Nimble Rabbit).
Freddy (Matt Baughman) is the fabulously deadpan bar owner, grounded in our reality. Gaston (David Jones) is his perpetually incontinent foil for much of the play. The aptly named Germaine (Veronica Johnston) is our feminine connection to truth. These three denizens of the Lapin Agile become the catalysts for our journey back in time to a simpler era, leading us into Martin’s imagined world, where super geniuses on the verge of realizing their “great ideas” connect and, in reconciling their differences and similarities, find respect and meaningful connection in artistic and scientific creativity.
But the play doesn’t stop there. A cast of characters who drift in and around the ongoing (and often hilarious) conversations of art, science and love, including Suzanne (Alexandra Guyker) a young admirer of Picasso’s steamier “Latin Lover” persona than she is of his artistic endeavors, Sagot (Dino Coppa), a self-styled art critic and entrepreneur with questionably fuzzy ethics, Charles Dabernow Schmendiman (Thomas Ashcom), a shining example of the fleeting nature of fame, and The Countess (Meghan Williams Elkins), a connection to the past.
As funny as Picasso… is, and oh, yes, it is funny, there’s a more serious, potentially brilliant debate over the fleeting nature of fame and how relative it is to the human mind. The Visitor (Steve Quillen), in a left-turn role that’s beautifully played, brings us to the absurdity and truth of the play, tying Martin’s theories of genius together.
In all a terrific production.
NOTE: The play does contain some adult language, more often naughty than explicit, and I wouldn’t recommended it for viewers younger than 12.
- Freddy: Matt Baughman
- Gaston: David Jones
- Germaine: Veronica Johnston
- Albert Einstein: Jim Webner
- Suzanne: Alexandra Guyker
- Sagot: Dino Coppa
- Pablo Picasso: Omar LaTiri
- Charles Dabernow Schmendiman: Thomas Ashcom
- The Countess: Meghan Williams Elkins
- The Visitor: Steve Quillen
- Producer: David Jones
- Director: Heather LaTiri
- Assistant Director: Amanda Marie Imhof
- Stage Manager: Debbie Shelley
- Set Design: Jennifer Andrews
- Lighting Design: Steve Deming
- Sound Design: Patrick Hughes
- Master Carpenter: Joy Wyne
- Costume Design: Eleanor Dicks
- Set Decoration/Properties: Kay Coupe
- Light Execution: Peter Blaney
- Sound Execution: Abhi Shrestha
- Running Crew: BJ Angstadt, Bruce Angstadt, Melissa Powell
- Set Construction: Nancy Davis, Steve Deming, Amanda Marie Imhof, David Jones, Heather Latiri, Steve Quillen, Joy Wyne
- Set Painting: Nancy Davis, Todd Fleming, Amanda Marie Imhof, Veronica Johnston, Heather Latiri, Steve Quillen, James Webner, Monica Wenzel, Joy Wyne
- Load-in Crew: Peter Blaney, Kay Coupe, Steve Deming, Amanda Marie Imhof, Veronica Johnston, David Jones, Heather LaTiri, Steve Quillen, Debbie Shelley, Paul Shoop, Jim Webner, Joy Wyne
- Specilized Set Painting: Jessica Jimeno, Freddy King, Heather Latiri, Steve Quillen, James Webner
- Stained Glass Window Art: Jessica Jimeno, Jessica Geftic
- Photography/Videography: David Jones
- Program Cover: Patrick Etienne
Disclaimer: Montgomery Playhouse provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/6182.
Betsy Marks Delaney is founder and Artistic Director of OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2) and General Manager of the Greenbelt Arts Center. Since 2006 Betsy has worked as a director, producer, designer and more. Betsy has also worked with Washington Revels, Arena Stage, the now-defunct Harlequin Dinner Theatre and with community theatre companies both in Maryland and in upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical Theatre from SUNY New Paltz. Through Hawkeswood Productions, Betsy produces archival performance videos and YouTube highlight spots.