The Motherfuc*er With The Hat Review - Funnier Than an AA Meeting

It is somewhat ironic that the only thing censored in The Motherf**ker With The Hat is the title.  Those two *s aside, this play is one unflinching dark comedy about addiction with dialogue as sharp and jagged as a broken bottle.  Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis and directed by Anna D. Shapiro, Motherf**ker opens with Jackie (John Ortiz) recently paroled, sober and newly employed.  As he lies in bed waiting for his lover (Sandra Delgado as Veronica) to return from the shower he spies an unfamiliar man’s hat.  Jackie wastes little time before confronting Veronica and thus begins an odyssey of sorts with Jackie moving further and further along a maze of AA clichés and betrayals.

Veronica (Sandra Delgado) leaps into Jackie’s (John Ortiz) arms when he tells her that he found a job

 

The cast of Motherf**er is as tight as the plot.  John Ortiz is incredibly believable as the almost likeable Jackie who seems to take a particular delight in pushing people away.  His counterpart for much of the play, Sandra Delgado, is also convincing as the deep feeling and intense girlfriend who never looks more in her element than when wielding a baseball bat.  Just watching Ortiz and Delgado spar is worth the price of admission.  Gary Perez (Cousin Julio) also injects a certain amount of emotional integrity as well as comedic relief throughout the play.  When Cousin Julio informs Jackie that he is not as nice a person as he thinks he is, the audience understands where Cousin Julio is coming from.

Jackie (John Ortiz) takes his sponsor, Ralph D. (Jimmy Smits) to visit his Cousin Julio

Growing up a fan of L.A. Law, I was surprised by how effortlessly Jimmy Smits worked with the rest of the cast.  Cast as Ralph D., Jimmy Smits reveals his character’s true essence in tandem with the story.  This progression of character does much to heighten the play’s tension.  All of the actors on stage make great use of their physicality to communicate essential nuances of their character.  In the case of Ralph D., Smits appears to almost literally grow in his role until by the end of the night he is towering over Jackie in an essential closing scene. 

Couson Julio (Gary Perez) cooks breakfast for Jackie (John Ortiz)

Sandra Marquez as Victoria

Set design (Todd Rosenthal) here was also superb and there really was very little to criticize except for maybe the  cheesy musical interludes playing between scenes.  Although it is early in 2013, I do not doubt that The Motherf**ker With The Hat will make my top five list for theater in Chicago.   And that is no mother**king lie.

John Ortiz as Jackie

Bottom Line:  The Motherf**ker With The Hat is highly recommended and is playing through early March at Steppenwolf Theater (1650 N. Halsted).  Tickets are priced between $20 and $86 with a limited number of student tickets available for $15.  For more information or to purchase tickets, click here http://www.steppenwolf.org/Plays-Events/  For more theater reviews and theater schedules, click here http://www.theatreinchicago.com/

Sandra Delgado as Veronica

Photos by:  Michael Brosilow

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