Picasso at the Lapin Agile -- Long Wharf
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
“The Underpants,” which played last season at Long Wharf Theatre, was so successful that Gordon Edelstein is directing another clever work by multi-talented Steve Martin called, “Picasso At The Lapin Agile.”
This comedy takes place in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, when this city was the hub of some of the world’s most talented movers and shakers. During this period, The Lapin Agile, which means “nimble rabbit,” served as a drinking and meeting place for the exchange of the latest, creative ideas. This setting also became the inspiration for Steve Martin who imagined what it might have been like for a variety of eccentric geniuses to meet in one place and crash heads and personalities.
And so, we are taken back in time for a glimpse of what was in the minds of advanced thinkers about a century ago. The ensemble of vividly, colorful characters are: Albert Einstein (Robbie Tann), Pablo Picasso (Grayson Dejesus), an elderly, customer named, “Gaston” (David Margulies), the friendly and wise bar tender (Tom Rus Farrell), his sexy partner, Germaine (Penny Balfour), several women of various stature in society, all played by talented, Dina Shihabi, a futuristic visitor in blue suede shoes (Jake Silbermann), an inventor named, “Sagot”(Ronald Guttman), and, a hyperactive, inept businessman who masquerades as a genius bearing the colorful name, “Schmendiman” (Jonathan Spivey).
For the benefit of those who don’t know why the fictitious name “Schmendiman” sounds so amusing, it’s because the word is derived from the Yiddish designation, “schmendrick.” “He’s a schmendrick!” refers to a “little nobody.” It is often used as a derogatory comment about a person that should have known better. And, living up to his character, Spivey milks his small, comic role to the fullest.
In this one act comedy, Steve Martin plays with the notion that all clever people, despite individual personalities and pursuits, can meet on common ground and enjoy mutual camaraderie. Keep in mind that this amusing fantasy was created by Martin’s own genius.
Plays to: December 21 -- Tickets: 203-787-4284
This review appears in “On CT & NY Theatre” December/2012