Friday, May 8, 2009

Picasso and Einstein walk into a bar...

... and a Steve Martin comedy erupts! Balagan Theatre's production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile, directed by Shawn Belyea, is a laugh riot, with talented actors using Martin's brilliant script to make me, like the character Gaston, have to pee. And laugh like hell.

Full disclosure: Weisenheimer has recently become a member and president of Balagan's board, but that doesn't mean I can't keep loving and reviewing their shows, as I did when just a civilian.

The premise of Picasso is as simple as the headline to this post. Picasso and Einstein meet up in a Paris bar around 1904, and hilarity ensues. The opening-night audience Thursday laughed at length throughout and gave a rousing ovation at the end.

Trick Danneker as Picasso and James Weidman as Einstein were a most entertaining lead duo. Danneker's Spanish accent seemed to come and go a bit. Weidman was quite German and played the great physicist with great humor (though it took a while on occasion.) The rest of the cast were also wonderful. Seanjohn Walsh was a hoot as the frequently urinating Gaston, Ray Tagavilla was marvelous as the pompous art dealer Sagot, and Megan Ahiers was busting out all over as Germaine the barmaid. Jason Harber stole his several scenes, as he is wont to do, as the bombastic Schmendiman. Balagan regular Mike Dooly had the sneer down as the strage visitor from the future, though my Sweetie, the official scorer, thinks he still needs to work on the pelvis action if he's going to be king on this stage.

In between all the tomfoolery the cast are able to shed some light on a bunch of key subjects: love, sex (Einstein gets the girl by going to a bar other than the one he tells her to. Try it, guys!), creativity in art and science, business, and how darn fine the 20th Century is going to be.

My friend Mark, who attended the performance (and actually visited the Lapin Agile in Paris), gave the show thumbs up, and felt the best of the many great laugh lines was delivered by Jane May as Suzanne, a lover of Picasso's: "When Picasso looked at me, the word 'no' became like a Polish village -- unpronouncable."

That was a great one. I give top joke to another, a one-liner from Terri Weagant as "Female Admirer" late in the show. I'm not giving it away, though. You'll have to see for yourself. Picasso runs at Balagan through May 30, though there's already talk of extending the production for at least a week. Go see it!

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