In this play by Stephen Adly Guirgis, the central role of Jackie (Demetrios Sirilas) is a recovering alcoholic on parole. Jackie, like most of the characters in this play, is intensely passionate. I'm just not sure what about. Love, presumably.
His on again-off again girlfriend Veronica (Michelle Vergara Moore) is a drug addict - but it's ok because she is passionate too (sarcasm intended).
We open with Jackie returning to the New York apartment he shares with Veronica. Having just landed a job, he's in high spirits - that is until he notices another man's hat on the table.
After confronting Veronica (who convinces him it's one of his mates hats) Jackie seeks out the comfort of his rehab sponsor friend Ralph (Adam McConvell) as the suspicion won't subside - he wants to know who this "motherf**ker with the hat" is.
Complicating matters is the fact that Ralph is not the life affirming, vitamin drink selling friend he seems to be. His wife Victoria (Christina O'Neill) is dissatisfied with him and the former life she relinquished to be with him.
Jackie also consults his cousin Julio (Mark Casamento), who tries to look on the brighter side of life despite obviously having been subjected to bullying in his younger days.
The play opens with a wave of intensity and aggression and never really comes down for at least the first half hour. I don't know whether it was a deliberate ploy by director David Bell, a choice by the actors or inherent in the script, but it only served to annoy me because I can't believe anyone can be that intense for so long.
Script wise there is a good twist half way through the play which should have upped the stakes for the two couples. But it doesn't because it starts so "high" that there's no where else for it to go. So it plateaus.
Not only that, the actors were too polite with their lines at times. I'm not an expert or an actor, but I know that in real life we overlap each other during conversation almost all the time. It's just what we do. And you ESPECIALLY DO IT when you are FIGHTING. You are desperate to get your point of view across and you can't help but talk over the end of your partners dialogue in order to start your own.
The three main characters of Jackie, Veronica and Ralph really didn't have many redeeming qualities and I wasn't rooting for any of them. The other two characters - Victoria and Julio - were the most interesting but there stories aren't explored and they are written out towards the end all too conveniently.
Christina O'Neill was so enjoyable to watch as Victoria - she has a real ability to drawn in an audience - and I thought she really nailed the feeling of resignation and despair one feels when they realise their partner is less than satisfactory.
Mark Casamento was delightful as Jackie's cousin - he got that mix of comedy and realism that a lot of bullied people use to cope just right.
I don't think this play knows what its message is. What is it trying to say? What does it want us to walk away with? It's a brilliant play for showcasing the talent of a cast, but as a piece of theatre that is supposed to resonate with an audience, it failed me.
The final scene is over indulgent and could have ended a few moments early than it does and still have the same effect. The final scene between Jackie and Ralph never really goes anywhere - even though it's obvious it's supposed to - and that's the problem with the play. If a friend asked me what the play was about, I really wouldn't know how to answer.
I loved the video and images splashed onto the white walls during set changes and thought the fight scene was realistic enough, but instead of feeling sad that Jackie and Veronica can't seem to get it together, I thought to myself, "well, it's probably for the best".
It's not a great thought to finish a play with.
Review appeared at: http://theatrevirgin.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/review-motherfker-with-hat.html
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