You may never trust anybody again — especially lovers or friends — if you saw *NU* Theatre's recent production of The Motherf—ker with the Hat at The AllWays Lounge and Theatre. The play slaps you in the face with the title, but it disturbs at a deeper level with some nasty truths about the difficulty of knowing what's going on around you.
The New York premiere of Stephen Adly Guirgis' work was nominated for a slew of awards and won a few. Here, Joshua Parham directed a top-notch cast that brought the intense drama vividly to life.
Veronica (Kate Kuen) is cleaning her rundown apartment when her boyfriend Jackie (Michael Aaron Santos) arrives. Jackie is a reformed alcoholic on parole after two years in jail, and he's ebullient because he's gotten a janitorial job. Veronica is addicted to whatever's at hand — cocaine, crack, anything. The lovers want to celebrate in bed immediately, but before they can consummate anything, Jackie notices a hat. It's a man's hat and it's not his. He explodes in jealousy and an ensuing argument almost drives him to violence. He decides to get a gun from a friend and settle things with the "motherf—ker with the hat."
Jackie goes to see Ralph (Martin Bradford), a recovering alcoholic who's been in Alcoholics Anonymous for some time and is helping to guide Jackie. Ralph is charming and generally easygoing but strict about the rules of recovery. When he hears about Jackie's crisis, he insists they pray together.
Later, Jackie knocks on the door of the apartment where, he believes, the owner of the hat lives. He tosses in the hat and shoots it as a warning.
This small group of people is tangled in a sexual Gordian knot. Ralph used to drive Veronica to visit her incarcerated boyfriend, and he was sleeping with her as well. He even paid for her to have an abortion. And he's still sleeping with her.
Ralph's wife Victoria (Michelle Martin) knows all about it. She is angry with Ralph and wants to sleep with Jackie, who's been bunking on her couch. When Jackie learns this, he turns to his cousin Julio (Armando Leduc), who also helped him through a fight with Veronica.
The cast and direction make this sordid melodrama better than the title would suggest. — DALT WONK