Theatre Mirror Reviews - "PICASSO AT THE LAPINE AGILE"

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Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2017 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

MMAS's current show is "Picasso at the Lapin Agile", an absurdist comedy by Steve Martin. It won the 1996 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best off Broadway play. Director Steve Dooner takes and turns this into a wild, crazy and madcap show in Mansfield. The show takes place in a Parisian cafe in 1904 where Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso meet before the scientist transformed physics with his theory of relativity and the artist set the art world on fire with his cubism style of painting. What follows is an intriguing mixture of wit, history, philosophy, and plain silliness. These two men plus the bartender, his mistress, an elderly barfly, Picasso's art dealer, Picasso's date, Einstein's date, a crazy inventor, his admirer and a special visitor from a later era bring out the hilarious moments of this entertaining production. A word of praise for the gorgeous bar set by Ted Talanian and the beautiful, color coordinated early 20th Century costumes by Hannah A. Paul.

Steve casts this show splendidly. There is not only a great deal of physical humor but every gesture and mere glances at the audience evoke gales of laughter. Steve always brings out the best in his performers and this show is no exception to that rule. The two leads are handled by two very talented performers. Dennis Campbell handles the complicated role of Einstein with ease. He spouts off scientific theories and numerical equations in rapid fire delivery. Einstein is supposed to meet his date at another bar but she meets him there because that's what absent minded professor's do. Dennis becomes indignant when someone doesn't recognize him as Einstein. He also has many clever antics to portray to keep the scientific character from becoming boring. Andrew Lemieux plays the title character excellently. He makes this ego maniac into a likeable character with his acting ability. Some of Andrew's comic moments include necking with the bartender's mistress and in trying to pick up his date that he already slept with. Picasso and Einstein want to be the ones who bring greatness to the 20th Century and shine like the stars. The gunfight scene where the two leads draw, not guns but pencils for scientific and artistic drawings is hilarious.

The supporting characters are no slouches either. Freddy the dumbest bartender in France, played by Christopher March is hysterically funny. His looks of disbelief at what he is being told and his comic timing are excellent. The long mathematic problem he gives Einstein is hilarious and one wonders how he was able to memorize such tongue twisting lines. Anjie Parker plays Germaine, his mistress and has some funny moments with the others especially the kissing scene with Picasso and fainting at the Visitor from the future.

Three other comic roles are played by Paul Warner as Gaston, David Jacobson as Sagot, and Hosam Kateb as Schmendiman. Paul plays an old barfly who has to pee constantly and announces it loudly to one and all. His French accent is flawless. Gaston helps to cut down the oversize egos of the two leads with his sharp tongue and biting remarks. When he sings "When a Man Loves a Woman" is hilarious as is his story of having sex with an old woman and her dying soon after. David plays the crafty art dealer who makes money on all his painters. His many asides to the audience are laugh out loud moments. Hosam plays the idiot inventor who wants to use radium, asbestos and kitten paws in his walls. He runs around like a mad man and steals many a scene while doing so.

Chelsea Cavagnaro plays Suzanne, Picasso's date as well as the Countess, Einstein's date. Her entrance is gangbusters when she tells the customers to turn their heads as she changes her blouse. The one exception is the dirty old barfly. Chelsea plays wonderfully the hurt feelings to cut Picasso down to size and makes him squirm to return to her good graces. She also does a great job as the egghead date of the scientist. Einstein lets her pay for the drinks because he can't find his wallet. Chelsea also plays an admirer of the inventor and does a phenomenal job with each role, making them different from each other. The last visitor to the bar from the future is wonderfully played by Jacob Plummer. He bursts the bubble for the two egomaniacs by telling them that he will outshine both of them later in time. So for a rip roaring laugh riot, be sure to catch "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" at MMAS before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

MMAS Black Box Theater, 377 North Main St, Mansfield, MA
1(508)339-2822 or

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide