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Theatre at UBC

Picasso at the Lapin Agile
By Steve Martin

Director Kelly Straughan Sound design Mary So Scene design Karen Mirfield Lighting Ron Fedoruk Costume Annabel Woods Stage Manager Marijka Brusse

Dates 8 - 18 March 2006 Venue Frederic Wood Theatre UBC
Reviewer Jane Penistan

David Newham &  Ashley O'Connell; Photo, Tim Matheson

Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a humourous fantasy. Set in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, the bar at the Lapin Agile is visited by an assortment of people. It is true that Picasso spent some time drinking here, but the meetings with Einstein and the stranger are purely imaginary, though nevertheless, entertaining.

Karen Mirfield has designed a very appropriate and picturesque set, which accommodates the full cast comfortably and provides excellent sightlines. Costumes by Annabell Woods are fashionable early 20th century, the women’s dresses colourful and shapely. Well lit by Ron Fedoruk and accompanied by Mary So’s 1900’s popular music, the warmth and friendliness of the popular French bar are well realised. The performance proceeds at a rattling pace, flagging a little in the mid section, but picking up again to the end.

The script is full of witty repartee, which the cast throws around with much apparent enjoyment. In the more philosophical speeches the pace is properly slower and the timing of these interludes well managed.

As Gaston, an older, observant patron of the establishment, Ashley O’Connell gives a well-sustained and believable performance. Freddy, the bartender ( Evan Lendrum) and Andrea Blakey , as Germaine, his girlfriend and waitress, are central figures, round whom the customers circulate. Einstein, played by Matthew Kowalchuk, manages to look remarkably like the popularly perceived image of the great scientist, and produces enthusiasm and well-timed wit in his performance. Tim Cadeny gives us a well thought out portrait of the painter Picasso, while Keegan Macintosh enjoys the role of Sagot, an art dealer. Of all the characters, Schmediman, an unmemorable inventor (Ira Cooper), is the only badly dressed actor. Suzanne (Olivia Rameau) is a suitably seductive young woman seeking Picasso’s attention.

Virginia Fraser, as the countess, lacks the aplomb expected of one of the aristocracy of that time and unfortunately, the Visitor, David Newham, lacks the flamboyance associated with his character.

This is a good evening’s entertainment with some more serious reflections on the developments of the 20th century, intermingled with the fun and repartee. A good 80 minutes worth of performance.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile runs at the Frederic Wood Theatre, UBC, Monday to Saturday March 8 - 18, 2006 at 7.30 p.m. for tickets and reservations call the box office at 604-822-2678,or visit

© 2006 Jane Penistan