THEATER: PLAYWRITING ISN'T PRETTY

STEVE MARTIN VENTURES ONTO THE STAGE WITH A BRAINY BUT CONFUSED WORK ABOUT TWO GENIUSES WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

YOU KNOW YOU'RE IN STRANGE terrain when the arrival of Elvis Presley's ghost lends a feeling of coherence to the surroundings. Death has been flattering to the King, slimming him once more to a narrow-hipped hayseed, given to bold, abrupt gyrations and soft-voiced exclamations of wonder.

Elvis makes his appearance in Steve Martin's new play Picasso at the Lapin Agile, recently arrived off-Broadway after stints in Chicago and Los Angeles. The setting is a bar in Paris. The year is 1904. The chief protagonists are the young Albert Einstein (played by Mark Nelson) and the young Pablo Picasso (Tim Hopper), both...

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