“Picasso” teaches art and science of laughter

When hearing about physicist Albert Einstein and artist Pablo Picasso discussing art and science in a bar, one would assume it is either a confusing story or the start of a bad joke.

However, in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” this premise brings plenty of humor and an overall surreal feeling of seeing two of the 20th century’s most well-known individuals meet for seemingly the first and last time.

If one doubts this play will bring any laughs, look no further than the director, actor and comedian Steve Martin, who brings an amusing mix of silly and clever laughs.

With Associate Professor of Theatre Charlton being the one to bring the play to the George S. Lindsey Theatre, I knew the play was in good hands, based on my experience with James’ summer production of “The Mountaintop.”

Along with good directing, the acting definitely shines. One element that surprised me were the well-done accents, particularly the French, German and British.

As for the two main stars, sophomore Jacob Skinner, who plays Einstein, was definitely my favorite. Even though he does not sport his trademark white hair, his mannerisms, ideas and “Ein-shtein” way of speaking define his character, resulting in an overall great portrayal.

Then, there is Picasso, with senior Edwin Huertas taking the role, who, despite having his name in the title, does not show up until well after the other characters have spent time interacting.

The artist’s attire is closer to what one thinks when someone else mentions his name. Showing off his romantic side with Suzanne, Huertas brings Picasso out of his cultural spotlight just enough to keep his iconic image while also being able to relate to the bar’s other patrons.

Speaking of the others, junior Eric Bjork, playing elderly French man Gaston, steals nearly every scene he is in with his over-the-top antics and constant talk of sex and using the restroom. I could tell he is a fan-favorite with audiences.

With sophomore Maggie Freeman as the lovely Suzanne, senior William Wade as British bartender Freddy and freshman Konner Bendall as the not-so-mysterious visitor, one could spend hours talking about the play’s colorful cast.

Another surprising feature of the play is how it does not focus particularly on Einstein and Picasso’s interactions, but their talks and relationships with the rest of the group.

In my opinion, this is an interesting way to go. If the play had gone on for over an hour with just Einstein and Picasso debating, only for them to occasionally stop and talk to a supporting character, it would get boring. In this scenario, however, the show keeps the audience’s attention by switching back and forth between the two main lead’s interactions and those with everyone else.

Some may be disappointed that the play does not focus entirely on the thought-provoking debate of art and science, but, if Martin truly wanted that, he would not have made it a comedy.

Overall, the play took a different turn than I was expecting, bringing in a full cast of well-done characters rather than following the discussion between two men in a bar.

However, it is a play with plenty of laughter and memorable characters, so I definitely enjoyed the show.