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Picasso and Einstein Walk Into a Bar

By Kyle Ennis

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, the painting that Elvis shows Picasso in his epiphany. Picture taken from The Museum of Modern Art.

The Waldorf Theatre Department just completed a successful run of Picasso at the Lapin Agile, shown from February 13 to the 16.  

Picasso at the Lapin Agile, written by Steve Martin and directed by Ryan Johnson, was inspired by Pablo Picasso’s painting, At the Lapin Agile.

The show takes place in 1904 at the Lapin Agile, a bar in Paris, France. The play is essentially one big joke focused around a loaded punch-line: Picasso and Einstein walk into a bar. Both men are in their early 20’s, and are entering the formative stages of their careers.

During this time Einstein was not well known yet, but was about to publish his book, The Special Theory of Relativity, considered one of the most influential books in science. Picasso, a Spanish ladies’ man, had made a name for himself in France, but had yet to become the world-renowned figure he is today. During the play, Picasso is in his Blue Period. The paintings in this period are realistic and somber.

The two meet for the first time at the bar and clash immediately. They share ideas and criticize each other, all while sipping on wine and absinthe. Eventually, they settle their differences and become friends by bonding over the glories of their careers. However, there must be a third genius. The bar is shook when a mysterious man, who happens to be a time traveling Elvis, comes stumbling in from the bathroom. He leads Picasso to an epiphany, ending his Blue Period and transitioning into his more well known work.

The play is full of unforgettable characters and jokes–some interesting, some thought-provoking, and others just plain weird. Director Ryan Johnson often refers to it as “the play where nothing happens”, and he’s not entirely wrong.

Waldorf Theatre’s next production is Mamma Mia!, running from April 20 to April 23 at the brand new Boman Fine Arts Center.