Ladies (and gents), if you want to spend a night with Picasso it is highly recommended that you book to see him at Lapin Agile, c/o Pavilion Theatre in Castle Hill. This play written by Steve Martin and directed by Dave West has everything we have come to love and expect by Castle Hill Players: high production values, a fantastic, engaging cast, lots of laughs and beautiful stagecraft.
The year is 1904, and something in the air tells you that the course of humanity is about to change forever. Enter Einstein. A young Albert Einstein who is working on his new book, The Special Theory of Relativity. Nobody thinks it sounds particularly catchy, but they realise he may be onto something. A few scenes later, a drunk, horny, hairy beast with the swagger of Mick Jagger saunters into the cafe, looking for his next hook up. That’s Picasso.
Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin, famous for generations of slapstick comedy) delivers a fantastically imaginative script that is full of laughs, and dare we say, braingasms. Whether it’s Einstein’s theory of why pies are not shaped like letters of the alphabet, or why his formulas are “just as beautiful” as one of Picasso’s sketches, this wonderfully witty script has plenty to chuckle at and ponder.
Not everything in the script is perfect though, and this being Martin’s virgin attempt at playwriting, some of the jokes in the first half fall awkwardly flat. But that’s okay, it’s all part of the charm. The cast carry on, shrugging their shoulders at the absurdity of each random utterance, or newcomer into the scene (including a commercially-savvy schmuck named Schmendiman who quite possibly is a past-life version of…Elon Musk?) Anyway.
Kudos to the entire cast including standouts Mitch Doran as Einstein, Taha Zonoozi as Picasso, Daisy Alexis in lots of different roles and Constance Halstead as some guy that looks like Elvis Presley.
The stagecraft was gorgeous, including a magical starry-night finale, and the directing by Dave West would have made the late Jewell Johnson extremely proud (Johnson was the director who nominated this play for this season at Pavilion and was drawn to offbeat scripts).
Thank you gang for the laughs and providing a wonderful evening of oxytocin for the soul.
Picasso at the Lapin Agile is playing till 10 December 2022 at Pavilion Hill Theatre at Castle Hill, a very short walk from Castle Hill Showground stop which is easily accessible on the Metro line. For showtimes and tickets go to https://paviliontheatre.org.au/picasso/
Images: Chris Lundie