Jan 13, 2011
By Hollie Pratt-Campbell

EMC Entertainment - How about escaping the winter blahs for a couple hours by sharing a round with Picasso and Einstein at a bohemian Paris cabaret?

Next week, you'll be able to do just that as the King’s Town Players present Steve Martin's outrageous play Picasso at the Lapin Agile at the Kingston Yacht Club.

First performed in 1993, the play imagines a fictitious meeting between Einstein and Picasso in the early 20th Century, just before each man became famous for a major career breakthrough - the Rose Period for Picasso, and the Theory of Relativity for Einstein.

The show will be presented in cabaret style, which means that the audience will be seated at tables in close proximity to the stage. A bar service will be provided, allowing theatre-goers to feel as though they themselves are at the Lapin Agile with the characters.

"The play has always lent itself to that kind of style, and this is an ideal place to do it" says director David Slack. "The (space where we will perform) is pretty much the same size as (the real Lapin Agile), so it'll feel like this crowded little cafe with everyone watching."

Slack assures those who come to the show looking for a laugh that they will not be disappointed.

"The play is very much Steve Martin," he says. "If you read it long enough and see some of the acts, you'll see that it has a lot of dry humour, and then out of nowhere some wacky character will appear."

Slack notes that Martin is a brilliant comedic writer, making the show easier to tie together than a lot of comedies.

"It's really just about staying true to the script," he says. "Steve Martin has developed these characters well enough that... it's pretty easy to be funny."

Some of the more subtle jokes, however, can be a little tricky.

"There are some jokes that we didn't even notice until two to three weeks into rehearsal," notes Mike McGuire, who plays Picasso. "You really have to make sure you hit the lines right because there's another joke 10 pages later that will go back to it. But it makes it more interesting that way too."

McGuire says that though it is somewhat daunting to play such a well-known and respected artist, the fact that there is very little actual footage of Picasso makes his job both easier and more fun.

"People aren't expecting certain things from the character of Picasso because they know him for his art as opposed to the person himself," he explains. "Plus, because it's a completely fictionalized account of him meeting Einstein, I can play with the character quite a bit."

The role of Germaine the waitress is played by Jen Atkinson-Spencer. She notes that she and the other actors have had a blast working on the play together. In particular, having the opportunity to play a feisty waitress has been a welcome change from the sort of role she normally plays.

"Because I'm short I usually get to play more wimpy roles," she laughs. "For once it's nice to play someone who's really sarcastic and a know-it-all."

She adds that playing a more down-to-earth character in a cafe full of bohemians has also been fulfilling on another level.

"There's one really good scene where Germaine just cuts through the crap and (tells it like it is)," she says. "I keep thinking back to myself in high school, always falling for the artsy guys, and wishing I'd had these lines then."

Atkinson-Spencer is also excited to have the opportunity to perform in a cabaret-style setting.

"There are a few points where some of the characters get more involved with the audience," she says. "It's not full-on participation, but the fourth wall does come down. Hopefully the audience will be drinking and having a good time."

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