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Picasso Meets Einstein at the Ruskin Theater

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By Lookout Staff

February 24, 2024 -- Actor and director Steve Martin's first full-length play -- which chronicles a fantasy meeting between Einstein and Picasso in 1904 -- opens at the Ruskin Theater in Santa Monica tonight.

“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” takes place at a Parisian bar shortly before Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity and Pablo Picasso’s cubist paintings transformed how we see the modern world.

“Picasso at the Lapin Agile”
Ruskin Group Theatre production of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” (Photo by Khue Cai)

The play runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through April 2 at Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Avenue.

"The play imagines, in a light-hearted and humorous way, the similarities of the creative process involved with great leaps of imagination in art and science," Martin wrote.

The famous comedic film director made several unsuccessful attempts to create a movie version of the play that opened at the legendary Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 1993.

The play received favorable reviews when it was staged in New York City in 1996, with the New York Times calling it "a very engaging 75-minute shaggy dog of a comedy."

"The piece, played without intermission, succeeds in being low-comedy funny while also suggesting that a great scientist and a great artist share a rarefied sense of beauty," Vincent Canby wrote in his review of the play.

"Mr. Martin's manner is to so mix the sublime with the ridiculous that they can't be easily disentangled. Yet he knows how to write."

The play ends with the arrival of "The Visitor," a country boy musician time traveler in blue suede shoes who adds another dimension to the genius' debate.

The play is directed by Amelia Mulkey, whose world premiere of "Sideways the Play" by Rex Pickett won "Best Director" from Stage Scene LA.

Mulkey also directed the critically acclaimed production of Arthur Miller's "A Memory of Two Monday's," which won 6 Ovation nominations including "Best Director” at the Ruskin Group Theatre.

Late last year she directed Samuel Becket's apocalyptic masterpiece, "Endgame" at the Theatre for the Small Space in the Santa Monica Playhouse.

Tickets “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” are $20 to $35, with a $5 discount for seniors, students and guild members, and can be purchased in advance at or by calling (310) 397-3244. Free parking is available on site.

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