One of my favorite conversations in the play Cyrano de Bergerac occurs when the powerful De Guiche taunts the romantic-at-heart Cyrano and calls him a Don Quixote, idiotically picking fights with windmills. De Guiche warns Cyrano that fighting the rotating arms of these giants will sweep him into the mud, but Cyrano simply looks him in the eye, smiles, and offers that the windmill’s arms might just carry him to the stars instead.
My friend Shelby Maticic and her husband, Brian, have battled just about every obstacle imaginable in getting their four-year-old theatre company into its own space, but Brelby Theatre Company has doggedly latched onto those windmills and risen. They’ve managed to put on highly-regarded shows in Old Town Glendale despite contractor woes and inclement weather. Last summer, they put on an incredible version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on the patio of a neighboring bar when they weren’t able to open their own space.
Having known their struggles getting their company off the ground, I was understandably thrilled when Shelby invited me to come review their inaugural show in their own studio theatre, Picasso at the Lapin Agile.
When I saw that Steve Martin was listed as the author of the play, I was baffled. The Steve Martin? The guy I most remember as the Insolent Waiter in The Muppet Movie? Yep. That Steve Martin. Apparently, he has written several plays, but this one is regarded as the best.
Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a beautifully absurd hour that imagines a conversation between a young Pablo Picasso, a young Albert Einstein, and the inhabitants of the Lapin Agile, a bar in France. When I walked in to the theatre, I was instantly drawn by the intimacy of the studio- the forty-odd audience seats really do feel like they’re in the play’s bar.
The studio isn’t fancy, but I was instantly transported to 1904 France when the play began. Adam Weiler, who plays the bartender Freddy, particularly shines. However, the physicality and the banter between Einstein (Luke Gomez) and Picasso (Diego Steele) carries what might otherwise be too intellectual a play for the average audience. Every person in the room was grinning when the two of them hopped up onto the bar, realizing that the distance between art and physics is less than they both realized. Steele turns Picasso into last century’s Barney Stinson, swaggering his way through every female character’s heart.
At times, some of the actors struggled to hold onto the accents they adopted for the show, but their fabulous comedic timing more than made up for the lapses. The humor is a perfect balance between highbrow art history jokes and raunchy bar room laughs (definitely not a show that young kids would enjoy). The times when the actors broke the fourth wall and acknowledged the audience were particularly well-timed, as was the choreography of the physical humor.
I was so thankful to be asked to review Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Shelby and Brian are incredible examples of everything we look for in a local business. They work tirelessly, are constantly optimistic, and are just darn nice to be around. They’ve become a part of an awesome community in Old Town Glendale- one that I hope will continue to grow and thrive.
Picasso has its final run of performances this weekend- I’d encourage you to go and check them out! Need some extra encouragement to head down to Brelby? Shelby and Brian generously offered a pair of tickets to one of our readers for a show this Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.
Here’s How to Enter:
1) Go and like Brelby’s Facebook page- HERE
2) Leave a comment at the end of this post once you do!
3) For an extra entry, share this giveaway on your Facebook page and leave a comment saying you did!
The giveaway ends this Wednesday, February 20, at midnight- good luck, everyone!
(All images used in this post are copyright Brelby Theatre Company)