THE MOTHERF------R WITH THE HAT” TIPS ITS BRIM IN HARTFORD
By Bonnie Goldberg
No white picket fences, no refrigerators with crushed ice makers in the door and no happily-ever-afters for playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis’ characters. He doesn’t create wimps or princes. Rather his heroes are macho and right out there in your face. His title says it all: “The Motherf-----r With the Hat.”
A hit last season on Broadway, TheaterWorks of Hartford is launching this edgy, outspoken comedy through Sunday, December 4th for its American Regional Theater premiere and they dare you to utter your own four letter words.
The play is all about relationships, but it is not advised to use it for your personal partnerships, unless you want them to explode. Jackie (Ben Cole) is newly released from prison, has joyously renewed his long standing hitch-up with Veronica (Clea Alsip), a gal he’s known and loved since eighth grade.
Now Jackie is at her doorstep, at the pad they share, with flowers, a teddy bear and sweet gifts and the huge news that he has landed a job. Employment will enable the couple to move up the ladder of affection at least three rungs. All is lovey-dovey until Jackie spies a hat, a man’s hat, not his own hat, on the dresser.
The grey fedora sets off a series of events that involve Jackie’s AA sponsor Ralph (Royce Johnson), a buff, smooth talking, I’m in your corner African-American who claims to have all the answers to Jackie’s problems, even if it turns out Ralph is causing the vast majority of them himself. Ralph’s wife, the realistic, eyes open, don’t b.s. me Victoria (Vanessa Wasche) knows the man she married and acknowledges all she lost in the process.
Completing Jackie’s circle of influence is Cousin Julio (Varin Ayala) who genuinely cares for him and has his back, even if it means crossing the morality line. Tazewell Thompson directs this well-acted verbal and physical comic confrontation with dramatic results. Sensitive ears may need earmuffs.
For tickets ($50-63), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Come early to the upstairs lobby to view the art of Chet Kempczynski and Mark Zunino.
Watch how easily addictions to everything from drinking and drugs to sex and fruit smoothies present choices that dictate life’s directions and detours.