Comedian Steve Martin’s 1993 play “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” concerns a fictional 1904 meeting between the young Pablo Picasso and the young Albert Einstein, who were born in 1881 and 1879, respectively. The setting is a Parisian bistro. Each man was on the brink of personal change. The resulting innovations, artistic and scientific, would rock the 20th century. Martin’s other characters are Freddy and Germaine, the barkeep and his wife; a bar habitué named Gaston; three young women looking for love; an art dealer; a visitor from the future; and an inventor named Schmendiman, whose invention lets one know he’ll be consigned to the dustbin of history.
“Picasso” is heady, extremely funny and droll, and a true joy to thinkers and humanitarians, scientists and lovers of art history. At Carlsbad’s New Village Arts through Dec. 6, scenic designer Tim Wallace’s Lapin Agile — a joy to behold — is rife with art treasures yet to come as well as clever caricatures of the play’s characters.
There’s a lot of talk, subtle and not so subtle comedy, a lot of sex talk and surprises galore. The ensemble, directed by NVA ensemble member Dana Case, herself an excellent comedian, is remarkable, headed by Tom Zohar as Einstein, Tim Parker as Picasso and NVA artistic director Kristianne Kurner as Germaine. Then there’s the common man Freddy, who is played by deliciously masculine Brian Abraham. Amanda Morrow, Sandra Ellis-Troy and Eddie Yaroch deliver other standout performances.
This play is a gift you must give yourself, but be warned that it is saucy and sexy.
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” continues at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday at New Village Arts Theatre, 2787 State St., Carlsbad. For tickets ($25-$30) and information, visit www.newvillagearts.org or call (760) 433-3245.