Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso walk into a bar . . .
That’s the setting for the Hinsdale Central High School Drama Club’s first play of the school year. The club will perform “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” next week.
Comedian, actor and writer Steve Martin’s play tells of a fictional meeting of Einstein and Picasso in a Paris bar in 1904.
“It’s set about a year before Picasso and Einstein really become famous,” said Jackson Dockery, a junior from Clarendon Hills, who plays an art dealer in the play.
“Steve Martin is a great writer,” Dockery said. “Einstein and Picasso really play off each other.”
The play poses the questions, “What defines a genius?” and “What affects our society more, art or science?” Dockery said.
He believes the way Picasso and Einstein are portrayed is fairly authentic, although the actors are free to interpret the characters.
“We all make the characters our own,” Dockery said. “I watched other productions on You Tube that are completely different from this one.”
The play, with 11 roles, is a good fit for the Drama Club.
“Everyone is perfectly cast, and everyone has their time to shine,” Dockery said. “No matter how big or small their part, they’re hilarious.”
Several of the characters have long, but brisk monologues, as when sophomore Arman Haveric, as Einstein, explains why “e” is the only letter that makes any sense for the shape of a pie. Or when Spencer Wawak, playing the bartender Freddy, tries to trip up Einstein with a long, convoluted math problem.
It’s a comedy, but it also is extremely challenging since it relies on words and ideas for its humor, said Sonia Gecker, a Hinsdale Central English teacher and the sponsor of the club.
“It is definitely an intelligent type of comedy,” Gecker said. “Actors had to work hard to understand each and every word and there are many words. I think it will prove similarly challenging for the audience.”
“The show’s themes center around the importance of art and creation,” specifically in the 20th century, Gecker said. “Steve Martin celebrates this century and these people. One of the final lines of the play states ‘in the twentieth century, no movement will be as beautiful as the movement of the line across the paper, the note across the staff, or the idea across the mind.’ What a lovely thought — and one that seems to speak directly to the power and potential of theater.”