Smaller in scope and more conversational in tone than most mainstage versions, the Avenue Theatre's production of Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile
was nearly as amusing and, at times, more affecting. More than anything else, though, director John Ashton's environmental show, which was presented in a vacant bar/restaurant space (the former Mike Berardi's), personalized the comedian/movie star's debate about art and science by eliminating most of the barriers that typically separate artist from audience. On the strength of Joan and Nick Cimyotte's handsome setting, Charles Dean Packard's moody lighting scheme and some clever special effects, the site-specific version hardly resembled an intellectual exercise. And even though they weren't Stoppardian ideologues, the performers' earthy portraits proved the pièce de résistance in Ashton's intimate, if not always immaculate, conception.