Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Play review: Picasso at the lapin agile

Crested Butte Mountain Theatre brings Steve Martin’s comedy to life

By Kendra Walker

Picasso, Einstein and friends grace the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre this weekend, July 5-6, for a comedic snapshot of a historical faceoff that never was. Picasso at the Lapin Agile is great for a Friday night chuckle or a Saturday night snicker, so join the fun. Show starts at 7:30 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $16 for students and available at cbmountaintheatre.org.

Written by comedian, actor and musician Steve Martin, Picasso at the Lapin Agile illustrates a fictional encounter between Albert Einstein (played by Peter Viets) and Pablo Picasso (played by Bill Frasure)—a prelude to each taking the art and science communities by storm with their respective legacies of genius.

Crested Butte’s historic community theatre sets the scene at the turn of the 20th century—Paris, 1904. The audience experiences a fly-on-the-wall perspective of an evening at the Lapin Agile, a Parisian bar frequented by locals with the motivation to see, be seen and brush up against the latest celebrities of art, science and culture. Despite what we think we know about Picasso and Einstein, each bystander is quite the character themselves—the amiable bartender and his waitress girlfriend (Pip Bailey and Katie Thomas), a boisterous bar regular (Jack Gibbons), a lady on the prowl (Hali Jones), an art collector (Rich Driscoll), an inventor whose name will go down in history (Seth Samson), and female admirers (Kirsten Hausman), among other surprises.

As the evening progresses, the characters drink, debate and mull over philosophies that shape the world and connect societies, digressing from topic to topic, all while walking a thin line between intoxicated babble and untapped brilliance. And in the midst of it all, Picasso and Einstein get closer and closer to unlocking their “aha” moments—the theory of relativity and cubism.

Reciting these academic and philosophical contemplations is no easy task, but the cast kept us laughing out loud with Steve Martin’s comedic one-liners. In fact, each cast member brought their own version of Martin’s goofy style into their character and made the audience feel they were in on the joke.

Kudos to director Paul Edwards for transporting us back in time, all while keeping it familiar for a modern audience. Peter Viets and Bill Frasure brought the renowned characters of Einstein and Picasso to life, portraying with flair the youthful hopes, ambitions and cockiness of artists on the rise.

A standout performance came from Katie Thomas (Germaine), who floated with comfortable confidence on the stage, serving up both drinks and line delivery with ease. Hali Jones and Kirsten Hausman deserve a nod for their masterful costume changes.

Seth Samson may have played the most memorable character of the evening, Charles Dabernow Schmendiman, filling the room with laughs due to his endearing and oblivious incompetence. Cheers to Pip Bailey (Freddy), who broke the ice by breaking the fourth wall early on, and Jack Gibbons, who kept us smiling with his jolly portrayal of Gaston.

Rich Driscoll, we’d like a copy of that historical group photo you snapped.

It’s not difficult to imagine similar quirky characters having similar quirky conversations today in one of Crested Butte’s favorite local haunts. You might walk away from the show on your way to Kochevar’s wondering, “Who among us will reveal a brink of cultural genius tonight?”

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