Special to the Tribune-Star
Community Theatre of Terre Haute warms up the cold winter season with a Steve Martin comedy, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” It opens this Friday and continues through the weekend. Additional performances are Jan. 31 through Feb. 2. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees beginning at 2:30 p.m. The comedy is directed by Community Theatre veteran director and actress Sandra Groves.
Martin wrote the comedy in 1993. “You can really hear Steve Martin in the dialogue,” Groves said. “The humor is very witty. You have to pay attention at all times, because the joke might end several minutes after the punch line is laid.”
The play is set in a tavern called the Lapin Agile (Nimble Rabbit) on Oct. 8, 1904, in Montmartre, Paris, France. There is an encounter between Albert Einstein (Peter Ciancone) and Pablo Picasso (Levi Elmore), where they have a lengthy debate about the value of genius and talent. At this time, both men are on the brink of making significant breakthroughs: Einstein will publish his theory of relativity in 1905, and Picasso will paint "Les Demoiselles d’Avignon" in 1907.
Freddy (Christopher Gagnon) is the owner of the bar, and he and his waitress girlfriend Germaine (Karen Crispin) do a good job of keeping glasses full and conversation flowing for the artistic crowd that frequents the establishment. Einstein throws them for a loop being a physicist, as they are used to painters and writers wiling away the hours.
A young woman named Suzanne (Nicole Bailey) enters the bar, hoping to meet Picasso again after they had an intimate encounter a few weeks earlier. She has a drawing he had sketched of her, which draws interest from Sagot (Ted Compton), an art dealer and regular at the Lapin Agile.
While Einstein represents science and Picasso represents the arts in the great debate of which is more important, another character, Schmendiman (Doug Short), is an inventor and represents commercialism. Much discussion revolves around the shaping of the 20th century, which is later brought to life by a Visitor (Trey Donavon). This party crasher from the future adds another dimension to the debate that perhaps genius does not always result from academics or philosophy.
Other guests at the bar who add their own wit and poignancy to the discussions are Gaston (Greg Otto), the Countess (Miren Beristain) and an Admirer (Alaina Keegan).
This was Martin’s first full-length play. In a 2009 article in The Observer, he wrote: “Focusing on Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity and Picasso’s master painting, 'Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,' the play attempts to explain, in a light-hearted way, the similarity of the creative process involved in great leaps of imagination in art and science.”
The ticket office is open this week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as one hour before show time. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for students and youth.
The Community Theatre is located at the corner of 25th and Washington streets.