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Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays:…
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Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays: Picasso at the Lapin Agile,… (1996)

by Steve Martin

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A bit of a disappointment. The premise was so extraordinary and could have been such an incredible tour de force that the frothy result was disconcerting. Some bright moments, but not the lightning bolts that should have struck. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 22, 2014 |
There are 4 plays: The title play, which is the longest one involving Picasso, Einstein, and the regulars at a bar in 1904 Paris, 2 odd short plays centering on a woman: the Zig Zag Woman and Patter for the Floating Woman, both involving magic tricks, and finally, a send up of middle class "Father Knows Best" types called WASP. I envisioned Paul Dooley as the dad of the nuclear family. There are some good funny bits here and there with Steve Martin's intelligence definitely on display, but that's about it. It's pretty short, you could read the whole thing in 2 hours or so. ( )
  br77rino | Apr 5, 2012 |
first book covered in my 16 genre challenge of 2012!
  jodysilver | Jan 3, 2012 |
Enjoyable, but damn pretentious. ( )
  johnmackfreeman | Sep 4, 2011 |
This slim volume contains four short plays - Picasso at the Lapin Agile, The Zig-Zag Woman, Patter for the Floating Lady, and WASP. All have elements of the absurd and the first three break the traditional barrier between stage and audience, but each should be examined in its own right.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile is Martin’s first stab at writing a play, and the result is remarkable. In this play, Martin imagines the chance meeting of Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein in 1904 at a Paris bar, where they are surrounded by a host of other colorful characters, including an unlikely visit from a time-traveling Elvis. This play examines the greatness of the twentieth century, as seen by those just embarking on the journey. As the two geniuses themselves say of the meeting, “the ideas we have said here tonight will lace themselves irrevocably through the century” (Einstein, p. 59) and “this is the night the earth fell quiet and listened to a conversation” (Picasso, p. 59). The play is at turns deep and snarky, and the writing style reminds me of Samuel Beckett’s works.

The considerably shorter The Zig-Zag Woman is about a waitress who goes to the extreme of putting herself in a magician’s box to get a young man to notice her. Martin shines when writing about love and loneliness, as seen in his two novellas Shopgirl and The Pleasure of My Company, and this play is no exception. There are quite a number of prettily turned phrases here that also make you stop and think, e.g., “In the beginning of something, its ending is foretold” (p. 94) and “love is a promise delivered already broken” (p. 86).

The third play in the volume lives up to the “patter” part of its name. This very short play involves a magician and his assistant looking back over their failed love affair. There’s not much of substance to this play, mostly the magician (and occasionally the assistant) going on and on about their past and their feelings. Consequently, this is the weakest play of the four, in my opinion.

Wasp looks at a prototypical American family in the 1950s and reveals that their lives aren’t as wonderful as they appear on the outside. “I’m living the lie, I know it … Truth handed down through the pages of Redbook and the Saturday Evening Post” (p. 148), the father muses at one point. The writing style here was reminiscent of another playwright although I can’t place my finger on which one.

Overall, these plays combine to create a delightful, fast-paced read that will leave you pondering the deeper meanings of their content. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Jun 4, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802135234, Paperback)

Ever wonder what it would have been like if wild and crazy Steve Martin had written an episode of "The Twilight Zone"? Well, wonder no more. The zany actor/comedian made playwright rookie of the year with this, the script of his first comedy, set in a bar in 1904 Paris. Two of the regulars, twentysomethings Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein, argue about the art of physics and the physics of art as they try to impress and bed a pretty girl. And then the space/time/culture continuum ruptures, and they're joined by a figure from the future who seems to be . . . Elvis Presley! Read for yourself why the show's been done Off-Broadway and at regionals around the country.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:45 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Steve Martin is one of America's most treasured actors, having appeared in some of the most popular moves of our time. He is also an accomplished screenwriter who has in the past few years turned his hand to writing plays. The results, collected here, hilariously explore serious questions of love, happiness and the meaning of life; they are rich with equal parts of pain and slapstick humour, torment and wit.… (more)

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