Vail Valley Theatre Company presents Steve Martin’s ‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile’ |

Vail Valley Theatre Company presents Steve Martin’s ‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile’

HL Picasso at Lapin 3 DT 4-17-12

AVON – Men first showered, shaved and walked upright to impress women.

If you’re Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein captured in Steve Martin’s play “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” you set the worlds of art and science on their heads for that same reason.

And, you’ll be happy to know, genius is as likely to land on you in a bar as a lab or art studio.

In Martin’s witty play, a young Albert Einstein (J.D. Lemon) and Pablo Picasso (Lance Schober) glare at each other and say something like, “This bar ain’t big enough for the both of us … DRAW!”

And they do, sort of like gunslingers in tweed. Picasso grabs a piece of paper and scrawls the beginnings of his cubist manifesto; on a chalkboard Einstein scribbles his special theory of relativity.

The stunning Suzanne (Franny Gustafson), is worth all the pencil strokes and posturing. She does things to black lace that are illegal in most Southern states, but the play is set in a French bar, so it’s OK.

Through it all the conversation, word play and jokes fly at the audience with remarkable speed.

The one-act play is performed expertly by the Vail Valley Theatre Company. It’s set in a bar, and they’re performing it in a bar, upstairs at Montana’s in Avon.

On Oct. 8, 1904, just before Picasso and Einstein turned the worlds of art and science on their heads, they happen to meet in a bar, along with a group of delightful patrons. Their conversations are not for the faint of mind, but they are funny.

The one-act play combines two of Martin’s passions, art and science, in a humorous riff on Einstein’s theory of relativity and Picasso’s cubist manifesto.

Einstein (J.D. Lemon), 25 at the time, explains why matters of the heart are largely governed by his as-yet unpublished theory of relativity. It sounds like something a guy would make up in a bar when he’s looking for a girl he might not find.

Picasso (Lance Schober) is 25, and an arrogant, womanizing painter who thinks he is more famous than he is. He tells red-haired beauty Suzanne (Franny Gustafson), “I mean every word I say, no matter what woman I’m saying it to.”

On this night they are bursting with youthful zeal and ego as they debate and challenge each other. Instead of highbrow lecturing, it plays out like two gunslingers in a Wild West saloon. They circle each other, pencils at the ready, shout “draw” and begin scribbling.

When the dust settles, Picasso remarks dismissively to Einstein, “Yours is just a formula.”

“So’s yours!” Einstein counters triumphantly.

Once the main characters have had their moments of insight, “The Visitor,” a man from the future, crashes the party.

In other words, great ideas are as likely to find life on bar napkins as in a lab or art studio.

Einstein and Picasso are both on the verge of their breakthrough work.

One year later, Einstein’s “The Special Theory of Relativity” will be published. Three years later Picasso will set the course for cubism and modern art with his painting “Les Demoiselles D’Avignon.”

“It’s very clever, witty and fun,” said director Kaylee Brennand.

The bar-within-a-bar play in Montana’s bar has that turn-of-the-century feel, so you feel like you’re in the right place.

They’re putting cabaret tables in the so you can enjoy a drink while you’re watching. The cast is also encouraging people to have dinner at Montana’s before or after the play.

Dean Davis is the technical director. He suggested it as something light and fun, and a little outside the VVTC’s norm, Brennand said.

“We read it, we liked it and decided to produce it,” Brennand said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

Support Local Journalism