NIU School of Theatre and Dance shells out the laughs in ‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile’


This weekend, NIU performed the work of one very wild and crazy guy.

After its premiere at the Steppenwolf Theatre in 1994, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” written by comedic actor Steve Martin, has made its way through many different theaters across the country. Directed by guest director Ann Filmer, this play was put together well and immensely entertaining for the small audience at the Players Theatre.

The setting is the small Parisian bar Lapin Agile in 1904. In this small, intimate setting we meet unique characters dreamed up by Martin. Of these characters, we meet a young Pablo Picasso and a young Albert Einstein just before they both make history in the 20th century.

With the help of the other characters in the bar, Picasso and Einstein discuss the similarities and differences between their brilliance and their future contributions to the world.

As their intellectual debate continues, a mysterious hip-swiveling rock ‘n’ roll visitor from the future appears (who may or may not be Elvis) and represents the third direction of brilliance in the 20th century.

This setting and the 11 characters involved make this production very interesting and intellectual.

However, the show isn’t all “genius talk.” Among the debates of manifest destiny, discovery and genius, there are different types of humor offered.

The comedy in this 84-minute play clearly represents the quick one-liners and sarcasm characterized by Martin. This style is very fitting for the setting and the type of characters found in the bar.

The production was put together well, and it’s apparent that a lot of work and dedication went into its presentation. The stage was close to the audience and made it possible for the actors to interact with the audience and make the performance feel very personal.

The costumes added to the illusion of a Parisian bar in 1904 and were styled well for each character.

The actors and actresses portrayed their characters very well and hardly missed a cue. For a play with no intermission, the cast proved their stamina and ability to remember their sometimes complex lines.

However, one criticism for the young cast is the absence of a French accent. The play is supposed to be set in Paris, yet every actor sounded American. Every once in a while, an accent would be heard, but for the most part, it was non-existent.

“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” is an amazing, interesting and extremely humorous play. It was well-written, funny and well-produced by the talented people of NIU’s School of Theatre and Dance.