“The Motherf**ker with the Hat” written by Stephen Adly Guirgis and directed by Gloria Gifford.
Stephen Adly Guirgis is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.
He’s also a New Yorker born and bred, which very is important to “The Motherf**ker with a Hat” because it is firmly set in New York City and peopled by classic, bombastic and hilarious New York characters.
The play revolves around Jackie, a former drug dealer, an addict who is fresh out of jail and determined to stay clean, get a job and become a responsible member of society. His plans are somewhat curtailed by his girlfriend Veronica who we first encounter as she lambastes her mother on the phone for being a drunk as she snorts cocaine shortly before Jackie returns triumphant from a job interview.
Their relationship hits the wall when Jackie, mid-tumble with Veronica, finds a hat in her apartment…and it isn’t his.
The rest of the play is Jackie and Veronica’s hilariously and often moving struggle to stay together or break apart forever. Jackie’s parole counselor Ralph tries to support him with his own home-grown, half-baked philosophy, all the while manipulating, shamelessly for his own gain.
Ralph’s wife is also involved and, tired of Ralph and his lies, hits on poor Jackie who is hardly in any kind of shape to handle it. Jackie’s cousin Julio is also part of the action, hiding Jackie’s borrowed gun he tries to use on the mutherf**ker and attempting to love some sense into him. But Jackie and Veronica have been sweethearts since they were kids and, even though their lives are epically dysfunctional and dramatically messed up, they love each other and that is real.
It’s a wild and funny and loudly tender play. Full of deranged people and their ridiculous agendas. So it’s highly relatable given our present national and global chaos, I only wish that we could all ‘love it out’ like Jackie and Veronica.
This is a play where the words are vitally important. There can be no deviating from the text or ‘adapting’ the theme. If done as the playwright intended it then it’s masterful, but I can see how easy it would be to miss the mark entirely. Thankfully this production by Gloria Gifford keeps faithfully to the original concept of the play and because of that and also because of some really fine performances from every single actor, it’s absolutely brilliant.
I love this kind of play. It’s full of passion and raw nerves and it demands your attention from the very first phrase to the very last embrace. It’s performed full tilt with no intermission which I so much prefer. It’s like stopping a high octane movie halfway through for a lunch break or something…what’s the point if it takes you so thoroughly out of the world everyone has worked so hard to create!?
So I highly recommend “The Motherf**ker with the Hat.” It’s full on, no holds bared, foul-mouthed, romantic moral fable. The real bad guy is the one who seems to have overcome all his demons. But if your heart is dark, no amount of ‘clean living’ can save you and even though Veronica likes to get high and sees no reason to change, she loves Jackie as hard as he loves her and in the end who are we to judge when we can all agree that “love is all you need?” So who knows, maybe they will stay together forever and prove everyone wrong…I hope they do.
Running July 14 to August 26, Saturdays at 8pm & Sundays at 7:30pm
Gloria Gifford Conservatory, 6502 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90038
Billy Budinich, Christian Maltez, Danny Siegel, Haile D’Alan, Jade Ramirez, Joey Marie Urbina, Joshua Farmer, Keith Walker, Keturah Hamilton, Leana Chavez, Raven Bowens and Antonio Jaramillo.