In The Motherf**ker With the Hat, the "f" word, along with a panoply of shocking verbiage is deployed; an arsenal of language that makes you titter until the words themselves stop meaning what they mean, becoming pause, punctuation, and, at times, punishment. You are dumbstruck by Stephen Adly Guirgis's script, getting into its poetry.
The first scene of this play of domestic derailment is a knockout. Jackie (the excellent Bobby Cannavale) comes home to Veronica (Elizabeth Rodriguez). Elastic of limb, they engage in a tour de force of body language. When she insists upon taking a shower, you know there's something fishy ahead. And before he can "do" her on the bed, he sniffs it up and down, the rage heating up as he cannot account for a hat, a man's straw fedora languishing on a corner table. His inner Othello rises up and the rest of the play is about... to whom does this stray hat belong? Or better, once known, does it matter?
Another couple, Ralph (Chris Rock) and Victoria (Annabella Sciorra) offers Jackie a bed. Rock's Ralph is Jackie's smooth talking sponsor. He and his wife are into "healthy living." Even in a buttoned up shirt, Sciorra is such a presence, you wish there were more for her to do. But as it is, to prove her desirability, she tries to seduce Jackie, and the disloyalties mount. He ends up at Cousin Julio's (Yul Vazquez) and the scenes with him are some of the funniest. The set up, these characters show much promise, but after a while, the verbal momentum is wearying.
You will laugh throughout the entire non-stop intermission-less performance as directed by Anna D. Shapiro, Tony winner for August: Osage County. But, in the end, like Veronica who rushes to the door after Jackie, you want more.
This post also appears on Gossip Central.