ASHLAND — Ever wonder what geniuses like Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein think about?
Steve Martin, the actor who makes comedy his livelihood, wondered. The result was his own brand of absurdist comedy, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” which is being performed Sept. 20 to Nov. 11 at the Cabaret Theatre in Ashland.
Director Valerie Rachelle says Martin “plays fast and loose with fact, fame, and fortune as Picasso and Einstein muse on the century’s achievements and prospects as well as other fanciful topics with infectious dizziness.” The comedy places the two men in a Parisian cafe in 1904, just before the renowned scientist transformed physics with his theory of relativity and the celebrated painter set the art world afire with cubism.
In the play, the two talk about “the nature of genius and the intersection between art and science and muse on what changes the 20th century will bring.” Bystanders, including Picasso’s agent, the bartender and his mistress, Picasso’s date, an elderly philosopher, and an idiot inventor introduce additional flourishes of humor.
“This show is so brilliant, and could only have come from the mind of Steve Martin,” says Rachelle “It’s funny, but it also has surprising depth as it volleys about big ideas and explores fascinating people.”
A variety of Cabaret veterans play a mixture of historical figures. Stephen Kline is Einstein, Stefan Espinosa is Picasso. The supporting cast includes Galloway Stevens as the famous art dealer Sagot, Sierra Wells is Suzanne, Paul Michael Garcia is Schmendiman, and Cabaret managing director Rick Robinson makes his debut on the Cabaret stage as Freddy. Making their Cabaret debuts are Karen Jean Olds, Paul Jones and John Alan Hurlbert.
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” had its world premiere in 1993 at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre before going on to New York where it became a long-running off-Broadway hit, winning the 1996 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play.
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” previews Sept. 20 and opens Sept. 21. It runs through Sunday, Nov. 11. Saturday and Sunday matinees begin at 1 p.m. with evening performances at 8 on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and select Wednesdays.
Reservations are required for pre-show dinner or brunch. Appetizers, beverages and desserts are available without reservations. Preview tickets are $22. Tickets for other performances are $36 with limited $22 B-priced seating for all performances. The Cabaret offers a 20 percent ticket discount for groups of 12 or more. Student rush tickets for $10 are sold 30 minutes before curtain with a valid student ID, subject to availability. For more information or to purchase tickets call the Cabaret box office at 541-488-2902 or visit oregoncabaret.com.