Steve Martin’s play gets a fitting encore at this Tampa theater

TAMPA — What would the conversation be like if Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein met in a Parisian café in 1904, both about to revolutionize the world?

In the mind of comedian and actor Steve Martin, that would have been absurdly funny.

This is the premise of “Picasso au Lapin Agile”, Martin’s first comedy for the stage, written in the 1990s. The Jobsite Theater first produced it in 2009, and it remains the highest-attended show theater to date. Director Kari Goetz returned to direct the show.

A solid cast, strong direction, and a witty book make “Picasso au Lapin Agile” a thought-provoking and highly entertaining work of art.

As with “Meteor Shower,” another Martin-penned comedy that Jobsite produced in 2019, the playwright’s voice is present in every character.

The laughs start right away when bar boss Gaston (Ned Averill-Snell) enters. He is a regular there, he protects his favorite bar stool and has a problem with frequent urination. Freddy (Brian Matthew Shea) is apparently the simple owner of the café.

Enter Einstein, played by Blake Smallen, who captures the essence of a genius – rather smug, but happy to discuss ideas. Germaine (Jada Canty) is Freddy’s girlfriend, a sultry woman brimming with confidence and intelligence of the ways of the world. In one scene, his predictions for the 20th century are particularly amusing.

Sydney Reddish plays Suzanne, a young woman who comes to the bar in search of Picasso. (Reddish also portrays two other small pieces.) When Picasso (Robert Spence Gabriel) finally arrives, he is conceited, lustful and rather obnoxious. His art dealer Sagot (Danny Mora) is even more pretentious, and his dialogue is peppered with revealing commentary on the art trade.

From left, Sydney Reddish, Jada Canty, Ned Averill-Snell, Brian Matthew Shea and Blake Smallen in the Jobsite Theater production of Steve Martin’s ‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile’. [ PRITCHARD PHOTOGRAPHY | Courtesy of Jobsite Theater ]

The figures meditate on art, science, fame, philosophy, and time, among many topics. It’s refreshing to hear the exchange of ideas, and there are a few nuggets that linger in the spirit. It all comes with Martin’s brand of wit and humor, which at times gets downright silly.

Jonelle M. Meyer delivers a fun performance as the third “genius”, Charles Dabernow Schmendiman. He is the inventor of an inflexible and very brittle building material who exclaims that “creation is easy!

Left to right, Blake Smallen, Jonelle Meyer, and Robert Spence Gabriel in Steve Martin's Jobsite Theater production
From left, Blake Smallen, Jonelle Meyer and Robert Spence Gabriel in the Jobsite Theater production of Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile”. It runs through October 9, 2022 in Tampa. [ PRITCHARD PHOTOGRAPHY | Courtesy of Jobsite Theater ]
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Near the end of the play, A Visitor (Donovan Whitney) travels from the future to join the action. He’s a type of Elvis Presley, and his presence is confusing, but adds to the overall absurdity of the play.

Due to the illness of a cast member, shows for the week of September 22-25 had to be postponed. Ticket holders for these shows will automatically be moved to the corresponding day next week, from September 29 to October 29. 2. Since many sessions were sold out and the show could not be extended, additional sessions were added to the rest of its run.

If you are going to

“Picasso with the Agile Rabbit.” Until October 9. $39.50 to $44.50. Shimberg Playhouse at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. 1010 N Place Macinness. 813-229-7827.

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