By Diana Condolo
Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a surreal comedy written by comedian, actor, producer and writer Steve Martin. Set in the a Parisian bar, the Lapin Agile, at the beginning of the 20th century, the play envisions a comical encounter between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein, who are in their early twenties and quite aware of their amazing potential.
The cozy ambiance at Round, an underground bar/club in Toronto’s Kensington Market, is the perfect setting.
Seven Siblings Theatre staged the play in Round, a bohemian upstairs bar in Kensington Market. This site-specific production uses the venue well – the audience sits comfortably at tables or on plush, red couches, drinking along with the actors, setting us up to feel fully immersed in the play.
The other characters include a gullible bartender, a wise waitress, along with a few others that scamper in and out of the Lapin Agile, notably the incontinent Gaston who wanders off to the restroom with such frequency. To add to the “we’re part of the play” feel, there were a few people visiting the lavatory during the play and I was not sure if they were part of the play or just dropping in off the street for a pit stop.
Picasso and Einstein muse on the artistic, the scientific and the romantic with brisk speed and thrown-in quick punches of humour. The story provides a humorous perspective on how the 20th century bent like waves around objects of great “gravitational” force, such as Einstein and Picasso. Another great person in history puts in a surprise appearance in the play, adding to the question of the nature of genius and leaving us to wonder who had the biggest impact. You can expect to reevaluate the way you look at science and art.
Will King as Albert Einstein and Dylan Evans as Pablo Picasso delivered strong performances; the tension and relationship between characters was palpable. The Seven Siblings Theatre Company embraces the ideals and practices of Michael Chekov – a technique which unlocks a psychophysical connection in the body, enriches the life of character through playing truthfully in imaginary circumstances.
Picasso at the Lapin Agile is an upbeat story, blending philosophical ranting with a lot of humour. We laughed a lot and the people who sat in front of me laughed even more. What is even more, our minds were electrified by sharp conversation that our conversation was a lot wittier afterwards. What more could we ask for.
Picasso at the Lapin Agile is playing at Round, 152A Augusta Avenue, Toronto until February 28, 2016. Running time is 90 minutes. Tickets are $20-$25 and can be purchased online.