Picasso at the Lapin Agile - Theatre Review

By: Saema Nasir

Steve Martin is usually front and center on the silver screen, making us giddy with laughter in his wildly hilarious films. You may be surprised to learn that he is the playwright of a fantastical play, which opened in Chicago over 20 years ago. Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a pleasant surprise that will engage, delight and amuse.

This intellectually stimulating comedy brings together two of the greatest minds and talents of the 20th century in one bohemian, ramshackle bar in Paris in 1904. Martin imagines a meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein as they exchange grand ideas about the universe and its relation to art.

Produced by Seven Sibling Theatre, the latest incarnation of the play stands out for one reason alone: the talent. The writing is brilliant and one can see Steve Martin’s comedic chops shine through the witty dialogue. However, it's the young ensemble cast that is bursting with talent and brings to life Martin's hilarious, yet thought-provoking work. 

The venue is quite unique: instead of a theatrical stage, the play is set at the Round, an intimate bar in Kensington Market, which is meant to be the Lapin Agile. The audience watching the great debate only serves to enhance the authenticity of the setting.

As a young Albert Einstein, Will King’s accent and mannerisms stayed steady throughout the 90 minute play. It would be easy to slip in and out of character and and veer into parody instead of a respectful depiction of Einstein. Indeed, I felt as if I was watching a young genius passionately speaking about ideas which would one day lead him to greatness. 

Just as excellent was Dylan Evans who portrayed the young, philandering and angst ridden Picasso. Bringing a vibrant energy to the stage from the moment he entered, Dylan’s Picasso was both infuriating as a heartless womanizer and endearing with his passionate drive for his art. 

Erin Burley, whose portrayal of Suzanne (among other characters) was restrained, sympathetic and authentic. I did not feel disdain for the woman hastily pursuing Picasso, but instead sympathy for her girlish infatuation.

The storyline is fairly simple, with various luminaries in history popping in for a drink at the bar, interacting with the colourful regulars, with conversation ranging from one’s place in history to women, science and art.

If you are looking for a stimulating evening where you will simultaneously laugh, think, and witness superb acting from the talented young cast, then go and see Seven Siblings Theatre's production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile plays at the Round (152A Augusta) until February 28. Tickets are $25.

Photo courtesy of Seven Siblings Theatre.

Saema Nasir is a marketing communications specialist who blogs, writes, paints & explores her beautiful city of Toronto. She has a Masters in Public Relations and also blogs at thecityquill.com. Follow her on Twitter @saemanasir