Thursday, April 22, 2010

Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Austin Playhouse, March 27 - May 2

Kimberly Barrow as the enamored Suzanne comes to the "Lapin Agile" -- the "Nimble Rabbit" -- bar-bistro, looking for Pablo Picasso, the man who enraptured her by drawing a dove on the back of her hand and then having his way with her. She learns, eventually, that maybe the second time is not as good as the first.

I can share that feeling. I reviewed Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile last year as done by the Sam Bass Community Theatre in Round Rock. Theirs was, I reported, "a charming production of a quirky play by America's quirky funnyman Steve Martin." My review tracked through the plot and had a tone of satisfied amusement.

On viewing this Austin Playhouse staging, the thrill was gone, It seemed to me that Steve Martin, like his character Picasso, was seeking too hard to amaze.

Martin sets us in a Paris bistro in 1904, when the young Albert Einstein worked as a clerk in the patent office and the young Pablo Picasso, hungry and unknown, was seeking artistic expression, money, fame and women. His premise is that their encounter at the "Nimble Rabbit" bistro-bar was a defining moment for the twentieth century.

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