Monday, February 27, 2023

Picasso at the Lapin Agile

 Fair warning..

If "Silly" is in your wheelhouse,  Do Not Pass Go!  Simply head to the Ruskin at the Santa Monica Airport to see Steve Martn's 1992 play PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE.   

Simply put, Steve's play is a really wonderful play!

Freddy, is the owner/ bartender at the Lapin Agile (J. Teddy Garces). Early on he breaks the fourth wall to make sure that we "get it" that we are watching a play!  One quibble I have is that there are only those darned little QR  programs.  Only modern folks  who have one of those cute little flat phones can read the program. 

Onward!  Fred Deni as Gaston, with his age showing, pees a lot.  As the show gets going, he is playing catchup.   Director, Amelia Mulkey, has her hands full with a disparate cast of characters, some of whom adeptly find the groove of the text.  The play itself is  loaded with opportunities, but not everyone is on the same page at the same  time. Some of the wonderful back and forth between  Pablo Picasso (Isaac J. Cruz)  and  Albert Einstein.. (Ryan Stiffelman) works nicely.  I loved the drawing show down. Lines for Pable and formula for Al.  Art!

With farce, it's all about staging and pace.    Getting everyone together may happen  as the run goes on.  I want to encourage folks who know this show just to go.

J. Teddy Garces, Jack Merrill, Isaac J. Cruz, Amy Motta, Fred Deni

A tour de force by Ashley Barrett, who plays three very different women  is worth the price of admission, alone.  The off the wall shenanigans of interloper Charles Dabernow Schmendiman (Hudson Long) could be even more over the top.   The photo scene with  Jack Merrill as Sagot, the art dealter holds up nicely.

Taking  into  consideration Time Travel and  predictions  for the future through his characters, it's Martin's challenge to the audience to plumb the depths of their Jeopardy! knowledge and unearth the jokes.  It's 1904. This is the dawn of a The Twentieth Century. 

Einstein is a dapper  25.  Picasso is 23 and bigger than life.  They  spar as scientist and artist with pencils to paper, ready to change the world forever. 

 The Visitor (Jackson Glenn) really needs to do some research. Thank you very much.

These are larger than life characters.  When played  to the hilt, they are really wonderful. It may be a melodrama.. or close to it.  What was missing, for me, was that aspect of some of the characters that, either tempered or boosted so that everyone was on the same page at the same time, the fun aspect will escalate. Martin's wit calls for split second timing and presentation.  As Germaine, Amy Motta gives as good as she gets, defending herself regarding the value of art.

Please see this show and tell them I sent you.  Ryan Wilson's set and the final scene with Eugene Sales' stars works just fine.


Ashley Barrett (Suzanne/The Countess/A Female Admirer)

Isaac J. Cruz (Pablo Picasso)

Fred Deni (Gaston),
J. Teddy Garces (Freddy)

Jackson Glenn (Visitor) 

Hudson Long (Charles Dabernow Schmendiman), Jack Merrill (Sagot)

Amy Motta (Germaine)

 Ryan Stiffelman (Albert Einstein)

Creative Team:  

Ryan Wilson (Scenic Design)

Edward Salas (Lighting and Sound Design)

Michael Mullen( Costume Design), 

Paul Ruddy (Casting), 

Nicole Millar (Production Stage Manager) 

Picasso at the Lapin Agile”

By Steve Martin / Directed by Amelia Mulkey

Opening at 8pm on Friday, February 24, 2023 

8pm Fridays and Saturdays

2pm on Sundays 

Through April 2, 2023
Ruskin Group Theatre

3000 Airport Avenue

 Santa Monica, CA 90405



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