As you walk into Downstage Lisner, it’s suddenly Oct. 4, 1904. You are in a small Paris caf?, the Lapin Agile. You take a seat and a friendly bartender, Freddy, pours you a drink.
Meanwhile, you’re delighted to enjoy the company of a hilarious old barfly, Gaston; a sassy waitress, Germaine; a sultry woman, Suzanne; an eccentric art dealer, Sagot; and an enthusiastic self-proclaimed genius, Shmendiman. Just when you think the night couldn’t get more interesting, the seductive Pablo Picasso and the ever contemplative Albert Einstein stir things up with a whirlwind of ideas. Finally, a strange and surprising visitor comes into the bar to shock you and the two geniuses.
OK, so maybe you’re still in Washington, D.C. You’re still at GW in Downstage Lisner. And you’re just a member of the audience watching the play “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” But with nine talented actors and actresses, a gifted crew and six weeks of working on the production, you may not recognize the difference.
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” is a hilarious comedy written by Steve Martin that stages a chance meeting between two influential thinkers, Picasso and Einstein. Generic Theatre Company took Martin’s masterpiece and made it fly.
Director Zack Kaplan and his crew members have taken the greatest care to perfect everything from the aesthetics of the props on stage to the slightest voice inflections of the characters. If you weren’t aware that this was a college production, you would never know the difference between this show and one at a professional theater. Eric Klein as the insanely funny Gaston and Stephanie Braun as the sharp-witted waitress Germaine give phenomenal performances.
Throughout the show, Picasso (Craig Butta) seduces the audience while Einstein (Eric Ryles) engages you in deep thought. You will laugh and smile and your cheeks will feel it. And with the range of characters you encounter, expect the unexpected.
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” runs Oct. 14-16 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $3.