LET’S REVIEW: Heady, hearty laughs abound in The Old Globe’s ‘Picasso at Lapin Agile’

Hal Linden appears as Gaston, Luna Velaz as Germaine, Donald Faison as Freddy, Justin Long as Albert Einstein, and Liza Lapira as Suzanne in ‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile,’ by Steve Martin, directed by Barry Edelstein, running through March 12 at The Old Globe.
(Jim Cox)

Comedian Steve Martin brings another masterpiece to The Old Globe with his version of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” on stage through March 12.

In the early 1900s, struggling artists, comedians, writers and intellectuals (and maybe a surprise entertainer), make their happy hangout the Lapin Agile, a small and friendly bar in Paris.

Popular artist Pablo Picasso (Philippe Bowgen) is a regular and always welcomed by bartenders Freddy (Donald Faison) and Germaine (Luna Veléz). Other notables show up frequently, some just to see the famous Picasso.

Things get really interesting when Albert Einstein (Justin Long) arrives. There is a spirited discourse between the two geniuses, each trying to one-up the other in intelligence. While Picasso is all about his art and interpretation, Einstein leaps into subjects like the Theory of Relativity.

A more entertaining visitor at the bar is Suzanne (Liza Lapira), who arrives to wait for Picasso to show up. She reveals that they once had an intimate night together and she’s hoping to renew that relationship. Meanwhile, she fiddles around the bar entertaining an old man there, Gaston (Hal Linden), who — kudos to Martin’s witty dialogue — has a comeback for her being called a “Countess,” and for almost everything else she says or does — especially when she takes off her top!

Einstein eagerly engages anyone in the bar in deep conversations, but his favorite is still Picasso. They banter back and forth, and things liven up even more when customers Sagot (Ron Orbach) and Charles Dabernow Schmendiman (Marcel Spears) show up. They take over the conversation mainly about a portrait of sheep on the wall behind the bar.

If this isn’t enough to keep the laughs coming, there’s another surprise visitor who no one would image to see at this unique bar. More laughs arrive with his appearance.

Globe Artistic Director Barry Edelstein did a great job directing this production, and The Globe design team created a sweet and attractive bar that feels real. Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” is definitely a play not to miss.

IF YOU GO: “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” plays through March 12 on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage at the Old Globe Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park. Tickets from $36. (619) 23-GLOBE.