Pablo Picasso is under the weather. He has begun to achieve fame, but feels that his work is becoming contrived and does not like the route his career looks like it is taking. He is at an age where melodrama beats reality, but a stiff drink beats them both.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a play by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin. He writes a lot of plays, you know) featuring the interaction of Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein in a small bar in Paris. (A bar which exists in real life, but it's doubtful that the real-life counterparts of the characters actually visited it.)

Einstein himself is in a similar connundrum. Having published his Special Theory of Relativity, Albert is turning heads in academic circles but knows that it is not yet time to rest on his laurels. Both characters know that they are each on the verge of producing something groundbreaking but are missing the inspiration to spark the creative process.

A third outspoken out-of-towner arrives, much to the dismay of the bar's regulars, in the form of Schmendeman, an inventor who's sure his creation will change the world. He speaks wildly of how great things come in threes and how himself, Picasso and Einstein must be destined for far greater things.

The interplay between the characters is brilliant, hilarious and at times touching. The play ends with the arrival of another Visitor who doesn't quite blend in with the others. He points out some simple truths before returning to make a name for himself at home.

As of early 2003, the play is being adapted to the big screen by Martin and Fred Schepisi (who also succesfully converted Six Degrees of Separation from stage to screen in the 90s and directed another Martin vehicle, Roxanne). The casting looks appropriate with Ryan Phillippe as Picasso, Kevin Kline as the gruff bartender, Juliette Binoche as the bar's waitress and Steve Martin in the role of the third Visitor -- which in and of itself should make the movie worth seeing. More later.

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