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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Steve Martin’s play Picasso at the Lapin Agile had it’s first full public performance on October 13, 1993 in Chicago at the Steppenwolf Theatre. To quote Mr. Martin, “the play attempts to explain, in a light-hearted way, the similarity of the creative process involved in great leaps of imagination in art and science”. Martin does this in a truly unique and original way, presenting a chopped salad of interesting characters and ideas, imagining a meeting in 1904 of Picasso and Einstein. The plot never moves in one direction toward any gripping conclusion, but rather runs on a variety of courses, much like the “nimble rabbit” alluded to in the name of the bar it is set in.

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The cast of Mud Creek Players’ production of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” on the set by Jay Ganz.

Mud Creek Players’ production of the piece is ably directed by Kelly Keller, in his directing debut, with assistance by Mason Odle. Keller does himself proud as all the facets of a solid production are put into place here, with strong character development, a rich understanding of their motives, and wonderful tempo, pacing and rhythms throughout.

The cast is full of new faces, new to me that is. Brad Root (Pablo Picasso) and Justin Lyon (Albert Einstein) present satisfying depictions, brimming with energy and life. Root’s Picasso is an impassioned man – a bit full of himself, but confident and very much alive in the moment. Lyon bears a strong resemblance to the young Einstein, and carries this through with a remarkably vulnerable characterization of the great scientist.

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Savannah Jay as Suzanne and Brad Root as Palo Picasso in Mud Creek Players’ “Picasso at the Lapin Agile”.

Collin Moore makes the most of barfly Gaston with a hilarious rendering of the man and his often absurd observations of life. Monya Wolf does memorable work in the featured role of Germaine, a waitress with strong points of view, and Eric Matters is deftly on the mark as her barkeep/partner, Freddy. Robert C. Boston, Jr. is perfectly cast as opportunist art dealer, Sagot, and Savanna Jay has some wonderful moments as Picasso’s young lover, Suzanne. Also noteworthy is Lexi Odle, who maximizes her brief time on stage with a humorous, well-timed, punch-lined exit.

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Justin Lyon as Albert Einstein in Mud Creek Players’ “Picasso at the Lapin Agile”

The play is performed on Jay Ganz’ authentic looking set, with adroit costuming by Tanya Keeler, and lights designed by Collin Moore.

Bottomline: As mentioned earlier, all the facets come together here for what is a thought-provoking, fast-moving and entertaining show. This was Mrs. K’s and my first visit to Mud Creek Players in many years and I hope that this type of production quality will have us returning soon.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile continues at Mud Creek Players through May 6. You can get information about the schedule and tickets by calling 317.290.5343 or by logging onto http://www.mudcreekplayers.org

  • – Photos by Colman Love

Note: this play is rated PG-13 for adult language and situations.

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