Carpenter Square is Hysterically Back With “Picasso at the Lapin Agile”
Carpenter Square is back, with a great show by a great playwright, Steve Martin! We have always known Martin as one of the funniest fellows in entertainment, and clearly his talents in comedy are literary as well as performance and more. The show is “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” and takes place at a bar called the Lapin Agile, translated as nimble rabbit. Picasso is a frequent patron and on this evening in 1904 he meets Albert Einstein at this favored haunt and the two men discover that they have quite a lot in common. Of course, they are both clearly creative genius level talents in their respective fields. They are also well suited to the other clientele at the bar, consisting of characters who are interesting in their own right and not overly impressed with the brilliance exhibited by these young patrons. Rhonda Clark directs a well- chosen cast of excitable and unique French patrons and the various young ladies that also frequent the bar.
Ed Spinelli plays Freddie, the owner of the bar, with a certain confidence and down to earth wisdom. He works with his wife, Germaine, played by Katy Hayes and the two complement each other quite well. Germaine mentions that Freddy has occasional flashes of profound insight, and he certainly does. The somewhat decrepit elderly patron, Gaston, is full of vim and vigor, energetically portrayed by Rob May. Albert Einstein shows up, and as the year is 1904, a year before the first theory of relativity was revealed to Einstein, he doesn’t impress anyone with celebrity, just his intelligence, and that he is a whiz at accounting. He is well played by Joshua Henry. Suzanne, looking for another possible assignation with Picasso has shown up and her description of her meeting with the great artist is fascinating. Chelsea Davis plays her with just a touch of classless class. Davis also plays The Countess and also a female admirer of another patron. She handles each role distinctively.
Terry Veal portrays another fascinating patron, leaving no doubt that the Lapin Agile is exactly the sort of place that welcomes your average run-of-the-mill genius! His character is Sagot who fits in beautifully with this crew. David Burkhart is Pablo Picasso, a man whose presence fills the entire room, but his personality extends beyond to the stars that fascinate Einstein. The interplay becomes electric filled with the positive charge from creative energy. Gaston has mentioned that as things occur in three’s he expects a third genius. Charles Dabernow Schmendiman enters and clearly believes himself to be a genius, but alas, he is not. After all, Picasso, Einstein and Schmendiman!???! That just won’t play. Nevertheless he lends an element of uniquely typical enthusiast of getting rich quick! Schmendiman is very interestingly performed by Professa Tesdale, and he brings another layer of humor to the show. On August 15 and 23 the role will be performed by CW Bardsher.
Towards the end, Craig Musser enters playing simply a visitor. Perhaps things will begin to make sense with the input of the unusual looking visitor, who is also quite flashy.
Some of the most interesting interactions come between Picasso and Germaine (Picasso certainly gets around!) as well as Germaine and her husband, Freddy, and between Picasso and Suzanne and also The Countess. In a somewhat different romantic style are the interactions between Einstein and the ladies, most particularly The Countess whose intellect is commendable and infinitely sexy!
Martin’s story of a night that never was but could have been is beautifully realized by the concepts of Rhonda Clark’s sensitive direction. Under her direction this night in 1904 definitely should have been! And, who knows, perhaps it was! The performances are exuberant and exciting only lacking in articulation. Excitability can result in slight slurring and occasionally the audience misses some of the hilarious dialogue.
All in all, Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” is more than a fantastically funny comedy it is also a fascinating example of the creative mind. The play reveals how important the artistic bent is to the scientific mind, as that what allows the leap of faith that takes place in thinking outside of the box. Einstein is clearly possessed of a creative imagination and Picasso’s flamboyance only masks his intellectual capabilities. Together they are the genius that the 20th century creates allowing individuals such as Steve Martin to flourish!
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” also benefits from a great technical crew with the Lapin Agile Bar as the set, designed by Ben Hall, lighting by Scott Hynes, sound by Marcellus Hankins and Clark and the efforts of Barry Thurman, stage manager along with assistant Laurie Blankenship. Clark also does the costumes and properties for the show.
The new space for Carpenter Square is absolutely glorious, and made more impressive by the art that is displayed during the run of the show. Suzanne Wallace Mears is the artistic on display and her work is vibrantly beautiful using Kilnformed glass. This is created from flat sheets of colored glass cut into shapes layered and baked in a kiln. As a colorist, Mears uses beautiful clear colors that are enhanced by the kilnforming process and her use of gold in the paintings is beautiful and can have a mesmerizing effect. Her work is for sale through Carpenter Square’s gallery (see Rhonda Clark and Mears is also represented by Howell Gallery in OKC or G Glass Gallery in Guthrie OK as well as galleries in Tulsa, Santa Fe and Florida. It is also interesting how well her work meshes with the work of Picasso, as Picasso as a painter is such an important aspect of this show.
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” runs from July 7 through 29, 2023 at the beautiful new Carpenter Square location, 1009 W. Reno in Oklahoma City. Visit www.carpentersquare.com or call 405) 232-6500 for information. Online ticket is still in rehearsal, but of course, simply call the box office to purchase tickets to a show of fun, frolic and fantastical fantasy.