- homepage link Editor's Picks

Shows Worth Seeing:

The Motherf**ker with the Hat
By Stephen Adly Guirgis
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
236 W. 45th St.
Box office: (212) 239-6200


Since he blasted onto the New York scene a decade ago with the hard-charging Jesus Hopped the “A” Train and Our Lady of 121st St., Stephen Adly Guirgis has been rightly praised for bringing a whole new class of lowlife New York characters onto the serious American stage. He writes primarily about people remembered from his Harlem childhood and makes us feel as though we’ve never met their like before because of his splendid ear for the nuances of their profane, taunting and cajoling patois, as well as his keen yet loving eye for their self-destructive psychodramas of bravado, deception and self-deception. Lately Mammon has been knocking on Guirgis’s door, however. He’s been writing for TV, and his latest play (and Broadway debut)—The Motherf**ker with the Hat—feels an awful lot like TV. It’s a more or less straight-up romantic sitcom starring the TV comic Chris Rock, who is competent, but hardly stellar, in the title role. This play is nevertheless worth seeing for the flashes of serious ambition that artfully mar its pleasing commercial surface. The fact is, the central couple—Jackie and Veronica, played with searing intensity by Bobby Cannavale and Elizabeth Rodriguez—don’t really fit the sitcom frame. They’re too damaged, too desperate, too heartbreakingly tragic to leave anyone happy about their grim fate, even if we do sometimes laugh at their miscalculations and emotional pratfalls. They’re like a couple lifted out of Edward Bond’s horrific masterpiece Saved, transplanted to New York and forced to act out their fate with punchy lines from Sanford and Son. It’s a very strange theatrical stew, with a fascinatingly disturbing aftertaste.



©2003-10 All rights reserved. Do not duplicate or distribute in any form without express permission. Hunter Department of Theater . 695 Park Avenue . New York, NY 10065 .