Where would we be without Steve Martin? No matter what he does these days, there is still a part of him juggling and playing the banjo – his head clamped into a prop arrow – that haunts our collective unconsciousness. Which is probably a good thing. Some of that silliness lingers on not very far away – in Maynard, in fact, as Acme Theater presents Martin’s comedy, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” directed by Gordon Ellis.

Where would we be without Steve Martin?

No matter what he does these days, there is still a part of him juggling and playing the banjo – his head clamped into a prop arrow – that haunts our collective unconsciousness.

Which is probably a good thing.

Some of that silliness lingers on not very far away – in Maynard, in fact, as Acme Theater presents Martin’s comedy, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” directed by Gordon Ellis.

Like Martin’s old school standup routines, the play is replete with snappy and disarming one-liners, but also reflects his cerebral side, with art, history and a bit of Shakespearean irony.

It all takes place in 1904 at The Lapin Agile, a bohemian bistro, with a hypothetical encounter between two nascent geniuses of the age -- a young Einstein and a young Picasso— both on the verge of greatness.

Einstein is a year away from publishing his Theory of Relativity, and Picasso is three years away from painting “Les Demoiselles D’Avignon.”

What follows is a clash of the left and right brain Titans, but, in a brainy sort of way, with witty exchanges that allow both artist and scientist to realize that ideas and inspiration are close allies.

The tag line of the play is, “Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso walk into a bar...”

Or, as Einstein would later famously say, in a phrase that launched a thousand bumper stickers: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

In any case, there is a wonderful underscoring of the humanity of these two brilliant minds who were products of the 20th century as well as shapers of it.

Far from a cloistered existence of thinking and doodling, they lived lives as large as their works suggest, and so who better to cast as characters live on stage?

The Acme Theater production includes returning as well as new cast members, and a big hope in a less-than-cheery time:

“This is show is the perfect way to break out of the winter blues and lose yourself in a wonderful evening of laughter,” said Kathy Campbell, the drama company’s president.

Is imagination more important than knowledge? In either case, it’s good to have some laughs along the way.

If you go

Acme Theater Productions present ‘Picasso at The Lapin Agile,’ with performances Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27 and 28, March 6 and 7, and 13 and 14, at 8 p.m., and a matinee show Sunday, March 8, 3 p.m. at Acme Theater, 61 Summer St., Maynard. Tickets $16 for standard tickets, and $14 for students and senior citizens. For more information and to reserve tickets, call 978-823-0003 or visit www.acmetheater.com. 

Margaret Smith is Arts and Calendar editor at GateHouse Media New England’s Northwest Unit. E-mail her at msmith@cnc.com.