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Mace & Crown | April 22, 2018

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An Unusual Encounter: Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Have you ever wondered what might happen if Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso met in a bar?  Famous comedian/actor/screenwriter Steve Martin imagined it would be a comical encounter. 

Set in a Parisian bar in the beginning of the twentieth century, Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” describes the imagined meeting of physicist Einstein, artist Pablo Picasso and an unexpected guest.

Einstein walks into the Lapin Agile where he plans to wait for his date who he accidentally told to meet at another bar.  While enjoying a drink, a diverse group of local patrons, including an old barfly who is obsessed with drinking and sex, discuss the local artist Picasso.  Einstein becomes curious as a local dealer makes money off of the artist and one of the flirtatious female customers named Suzanne swoons over him.

When Pablo Picasso finally enters the bar, his arrogance is immediately

evident.  Obsessed with the opposite sex, he rambles on about his need to continually use women in order to be inspired.  He is a lady’s man and self-confident, but that confidence fades away when his rival Matisse enters the conversation.

Einstein and Picasso look down upon each other at first.  However, their shared self-confidence eventually draws them together and they realize each others’ values with the help of other patrons and an unexpected guest.

Jeremiah Joyce plays the role of Picasso and said he researched Picasso for his part.  However, since the play is written by a comedy legend, he wanted to have fun with the role.

“It’s a little absurd,” Joyce said.

The play is meant to be light-hearted and silly, but it’s meant to have a deeper meaning behind the laughs and jokes.

Director Jim Mitchell said he believes the play is about the “beauty of an idea.”

“Can the beauty with which an idea is expressed, make the idea more beautiful?” Mitchell said.  He said the play seems more like a “Saturday Night Live skit” at first, but he called it “wonderfully absurd,” praising Steve Martin for his imagination.

Mitchell performed in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” 14 years ago and he knew he wanted to direct it when he discovered it was being produced.

“I knew how much fun it was,” Mitchell said.  “Everybody gets to know each other really well; everybody has a part.”

The play touches on topics of love, life, science, art and beauty while the characters find their place in the twentieth century.

“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” is being performed at the Little Theater of

Norfolk from Jan. 18 to Feb. 10.  The 90-minute performance begins on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.  General admission is $17 and student and military tickets are $14.  Tickets may be purchased at the box office or online at

By: Eryn Tolley

Staff Writer