Theater Info for the St. Louis region

Mary Institute St. Louis Country Day School Picasso At Lapin Agile

By • Nov 29th, 2011 • Category: Cappies

What if Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein were to cross paths one night at the same bar? The conversation would look a little something like two mad, girl-crazy geniuses discovering the Theory of Actuality — a weighty topic to be discussed over some beers. Throw in an Elvis and the conversation starts to get funky. But all the quirkiness of Steve Martin’s play Picasso At Lapin Agile is handled brilliantly by the cast of Mary Institute St. Louis Country Day School, directed by Patrick Huber.

Picasso At Lapin Agile is set on October 8, 1904 in a bar called Lapin Agile. Albert Einstein, played by Peter Condie, has a few drinks and acquaints himself with the owner of the bar, Freddy, played by Sam Archie, and Freddy’s girlfriend, Germaine, played by Tally Portnoi. Pablo Picasso, played by Dennis Shultz, manages to fit his ego through the door and meets Einstein in a surreal and hilarious encounter. Einstein and Picasso slowly move past their conflicting realms of study and find that they have much more in common than they think.

Schultz is a convincingly womanizing artistic visionary. His portrayal of Picasso is perfected down to the smallest hair flips and suave dance moves. Condie plays Einstein with the right amount of awkwardness and brilliance. Together, Schultz and Condie are a dynamic duo who bring out the character quirks in each other.

The supporting cast is strong. Portnoi plays Germaine as the seductress-in-disguise with ease, and Archie plays the straightman well, managing to ground the two loony geniuses. Stand-outs of the supporting cast are Gaston, played by Chris Noda, and Charles Dabernow Schmendiman, played by John Dunagan. Noda stays in character the whole time as the cutesy, semi-perverted, old patron of the bar. Noda’s one-liners have the audience rolling with laughter. Dunagan comes on stage sporadically with amazing stage presence and high energy. Without even opening his mouth, Noda gets many laughs.

Waiting for the show to begin is a treat in itself. For all the art connoisseurs out there, the set is reminiscent of a Picasso piece with visibly apt brushstrokes and rich colors matched by the set pieces. Every detail down to the edge of a chair mimics the art of the 20th century painter. Clayton Givinnup and Tom Hereford accomplish a rich stage picture with this extraordinary set.

The lighting, by Emily Ruskey, is well-executed and minimal, with the occasional dimming to set the mood for an aside to the audience or a sentimental moment. The musicianship is extraordinary. Composed and performed by Dunagan, his light melodies provide the perfect underscore at just the right volume and speed.

So, what would a conversation look like between Einstein and Picasso? The MICDS cast of Picasso At Lapin Agile answer this absurd question with ease. The characterizations, set, make-up, music, and lighting transport the audience to a bar in Paris circa 1904, where this outrageous situation seems somewhat plausible. An excellent performance of a hilarious play.

by Eudora Olsen of Clayton High School

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