Actor David Carter has a lot in common with Steve Martin, which may be why he was so eager to play a leading role in Martin’s 1993 stage comedy, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.”
“It’s witty, it’s smart, and it teaches you something at the same time it’s telling a story,” said Carter, who is also a stand-up comedian and writer.
Carter plays Einstein in an imagined conversation with Picasso (Robert King) in a Paris bar in 1904.
Presented by the Vienna Theatre Company, the comedy with its thought-provoking underpinnings runs to Nov. 3 at the Vienna Community Center.
The Lapin Agile (Nimble Rabbit) is a real bar in Montmartre that Picasso frequented as young artist, along with writers, prostitutes and other colorful characters, in the early 1900s.
It was Martin’s first full-length play. He had studied philosophy in college before embarking on a 40-year career as a comedy writer, stand-up comedian, actor, producer, author, musician and art collector.
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” ran in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and other cities around the country.
Martin also wrote “WASP,” which Carter saw in college.
“I enjoyed the satire, it made me laugh,” said Carter, who had also written a play around discussions.
His, he said, was about conversations between Michaelangelo’s David and Rodin’s The Thinker in a museum, where Mona Lisa and the figure in ’The Scream’ are also talking.
“It was full of puns about art,” he said.
When Carter heard about the Vienna Theatre Company casting for “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” he scrambled to audition.
Also in the bar interacting with Picasso and Einstein is owner/bartender Freddy (Stuart Fischer), his girlfriend/barmaid Germaine (Annie Ermlick), an older man, Gaston (Joseph LeBlanc) and several other characters, including The Visitor, a singer who comes through the door late in the play.
“They were both on the verge,” said director Pat Kallman, about the revolutions that Picasso as an artist and Einstein as a scientist would soon set in motion.
In 1905, Einsten published his special theory of relativity, and in 1907 Picasso painted “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” a radically designed painting of five prostitutes that led the way to cubism.
“Two major egos try to answer question about life,” said Carter about the play. “Both create a whole new way of looking at the world.”
Kallman said “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” is very funny and also moving.
“It’s a laugh-out-loud play, but you can also come and do a little thinking,” she said.