Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile Comes to the Alley Theatre

Dylan Godwin and Elizabeth Bunch in Picasso at the Lapin Agile.
Dylan Godwin and Elizabeth Bunch in Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Photo by Lynn Lane

Picasso at the Lapin Agile is the brainchild of actor, musician and playwright Steve Martin who imagined what it might have been like had Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso both met in a bar in Paris when they were young men before they became famous.

Visiting director Sanford Robbins (he directed You Can't Take it With You at the Alley)  has returned to helm the production set in the Belle Epoque time of 1904 and Dylan Godwin, now listed among the company actors at the Alley, will play the part of Einstein.

Godwin auditioned for the part in November 2017 and says he felt immediately drawn to it. "It's a fictional reimagining if Einstein at 25 had run into Picasso at 23." It intrigued him that he'd be playing the famous scientist as young man instead of when he was older and his accomplishments recognized. "These two men that we would call geniuses now sort of burgeoning on the brink of being able to take that in and the full space of what that means to be a genius."

Although there's some initial sparring at the Lapin Agile (French for "nimble rabbit"), both characters recognize the genius in the other even though their fields of science and visual art were so different, Godwin says. What follows is often humorous as the two engage in "very funny existentialist musings," Godwin says. "The pacing of this is very fast and very quick." The cast for the one-act includes company members Elizabeth Bunch (Germain), Jay Sullivan (Visitor), Shawn Hamilton (Freddy — he is also a new Alley Company member), Chris Hutchison (Charles Dabernow Schmendiman), Todd Waite (Sagot) and Melissa Pritchett in three separate roles.

Visiting actor Torrey Hanson will play Gaston (the character said to be closest to Steve Martin) and visiting actor Joseph Castillo-Midyett plays Pablo Picasso.

Godwin shares something else with Einstein. "I was OK at science, but math, sometimes I see numbers and my brain just shuts down. The way that I sort of tapped into him was that actually Einstein wasn't great at algebra and things like that. He was great in other areas."

Performances are scheduled for May 11 through June 3 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursdays and Sundays' 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit $26-$96.
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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
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