Imagine a conversation between the genius physicist Albert Einstein and the internationally-renowned painter Picasso in a Parisian café in 1904 (before they were really famous) and you get the gist of this play authored by none other than actor and comedian Steve Martin. Written in 1992, Picasso at the Lapin Agile is now playing on stage at the Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest through May 22.
Did this conversation actually take place? It’s possible. But suspend belief for a minute and engage yourself with these conversations between two young geniuses who muse on the century’s major achievements and what is to come in the 20th century, all while set in a real life artist’s hangout in the Montmartre District.
The play is truly funny as Martin adds goofy characters who add to the zaniness and move the conversation along. Knowing Martin’s slapstick as most of us have laughed with him for years, the quick comebacks and antics are unmistakably his.
There is much discussion about Einstein’s theory of relativity, Picasso’s “blue” period as well as cubism and love. Martin plays it fast and lose, but when Schmendiman enters with this idea for a new building material featuring asbestos and radium, satire erupts. Then, a surprise visitor from the future enters and takes the show in another direction.
Mark Yacullo as Einstein beautifully portrays a man whose thought process is so complex and over the top, he’s a joy to watch. Travis Ascione as Picasso is deep and soulful as the brilliant artist. Juliana Liscio switches off several different characters well with various accents. But it’s Jake Busse as Schmendiman who steals the show whenever he’s on stage.
Kudos to director Scott Phelps who helmed the company’s last production of the play in 1992 and whose fast-paced direction keeps the play moving quickly. Cindy Moon’s recreation of Paris fashion as Costume Designer is perfectly on target.
Coming up next at Citadel is “Little Shop of Horrors” from September 16 – October 16 and “It Runs in the Famil,” from November 18 – December 18.
For more information or tickets, please visit Citadel online at www.CitadelTheatre.org or call 847.735.8554.