On April 8, Sopris Theatre Company (STC), at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus, premiered “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” a one-act comedy written by Steve Martin.
The fictional satire involves world-famous scientist Albert Einstein, played by Joshua Adamson, and infamous painter Pablo Picasso, played by Wyatt Tulk, meeting at the historic Lapin Agile bar in France in October 1904. The humor of the show was full of the intelligent, existential and slapstick humor which Martin is known for and does a wonderful job capturing the hypothetical answer to a “what if” question.
Along with an element of wonder and surprise, there are science fiction components including time travel. Another famous figure, listed as “Visitor” in the program and played by Sebastian Dunn, travels to 1904 to discuss cultural and socioeconomic changes of the 20th century with Picasso and Einstein.
Perhaps the most poignant line from the show comes from Picasso when he states, “The twentieth century has to start somewhere, and why not now?” Rhetorical reflections such as this keeps the audience engaged.
The large cast of characters also includes the barkeep, Freddy (Mike Banks) and his unfaithful lover Germaine (Courtney Lindgren), who, like Suzanne (Hattie Rensberry), is one of Picasso’s many female admirers, Gaston (Willie Moseley), a regular at the Lapin Agile, the eccentric art dealer Sagot (Travis Wilson) and the fast-talking egocentric inventor Charles Dabernow Schmendiman (Scott Elmore).
While a few jokes may go over the heads of some viewers, the fourth wall breaks, art and science references and the hypnotic and abstract stage design is enough to keep everyone engaged the entire show.
Each character is unique, but they also share some commonalities. While some characters have goals that the audience can relate to, others are stuck in a realm of uncertainty. For example, Sagot, Schmendiman, Picasso, Einstein and Freddy are set on achieving success by their own measure. Whether that be Picasso creating groundbreaking art, Sagot trying to commission said art, Einstein figuring out what his scientific breakthrough is, or Freddy just working to keep the bar afloat.
In contrast, Gaston, Germaine and Suzanne, who added a lot of brilliant commentary and comedic quips throughout the dialogue of the show, stand out by merely standing on the sidelines of so much genius entering the shared space throughout the course of the night. What was striking about these characters in particular, was their tendency to strike up a one-on-one conversation with the audience.
Given the time in which the play is set, it was somewhat refreshing to see women, who didn’t have equitable rights, speaking about the pleasures with, and attraction to, the opposite sex and not be shamed for it. In that regard, the topics of love and sex were portrayed in a way that wasn’t vulgar or graphic but quite digestible.
All in all, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” is a whimsical, fun and lovely play that features wonderfully rounded characters, hilarious dialogue and pensive fourth-wall breaks. It keeps viewers engaged during the show and pondering once the curtain goes down.
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” runs again on Apr. 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:00 pm along with 2 p.m. matinees on Apr. 17 and 24. Live streaming dates for the show are also available on Apr. 16 and 22. Masks are now optional in the New Space Theatre. To purchase tickets, call the box office at 970-947-8177 or visit www.bit.ly/picassoattheLapinagile and enjoy the show!