The motherf**ker with the hat opened on Broadway last year and scored a pile of Tony Award nominations. And, as always, Red Stitch continue to let us experience such exciting new writing.
Welcome to a residential hotel in Times Square, New York, where no one cares that they can walk to Broadway to see a play. Here Jackie (Demitrios Sirilas) is out of jail, is in AA, has a new job and is waiting on the bed for his long-term love Veronica (Michelle Vergara Moore). Then he sees a hat that isn’t his. So begins a frantic tale about addiction, loyalty and morality with Jackie and Veronica; Jackie’s yoga-going, health-drink peddling AA sponsor Ralph (Adam McConvell); Ralph’s attention-lacking wife Victoria (Christina O’Neill, Avenue Q, Tell Me On A Sunday) and Jackie’s cousin Julio (Mark Casamento), who’s impressive in the kitchen, happy to hide a gun and always prepared to go Van Damme for his blood.
Irish-American-Egyptian New Yorker Steven Adly Giurgis is a NY theatre favourite and has written for TV shows like NYPD Blue and The Sopranos. Starting with dialogue that oozes so much authenticity that it’s easy to miss its rhythm and craft, his writing tears away his characters’ barriers to exposes the rawness that they try so hard to hide. And he knows that the only way to get through life is to laugh at it.
Director Peter Bell loves the script and lets his cast bring everything and more to their performances. Each show a personal connection to their character and Casamento especially finds the heart of Cousin Julio. However, the desire for authenticity sometimes distracts from the story and trips the rhythm of the writing. Authenticity isn’t found in an accent, it’s in the attitude and the connection to character. Inconsistencies in accent and style create barriers that leave another story about “them” because it loses the connection to “us”.
And, of course, it’s about us. Theatre is created to make us look at ourselves. From the opening projections, there’s no doubt where we are and it’s a script that reaches the heart of its characters. When story comes from such heart, we care – and when we care, we accept everything else. The motherf**ker with the hat has everything to be a total mofo, if it would trust the characters and not care about being so real.