The Motherfucker With the Hat—Stephen Adly Guirgis Cusses His Way Onto Broadway

Noted word plays noted theater district

Perhaps the chief delight of The Motherfucker With the HatStephen Adly Guirgis's excitable, profane, somewhat thin Broadway debut—lies in the struggle of various media outlets to convey its title, substituting MF, Motherf**ker, or, in the case of the Times, a long, tantalizing blank.

As in past plays, Guirgis has a high time with lowlife, and Motherfucker centers around a recent parolee, Jackie (Bobby Cannavale, loutish and visceral), and his AA sponsor, Ralph D. (Chris Rock, limited but cannily cast). Jackie walks the sober straight-and-narrow right up until he finds a hat in his apartment and suspects his girlfriend, Veronica (Elizabeth Rodriguez), of infidelity. Then he descends into a welter of substance abuse and unwelcome ethical conundrums.

The five-member cast, which includes an underutilized Annabella Sciorra and the delightful Yul Vazquez, often threaten to overact, but Anna D. Shapiro directs the showboating on an even keel. At the performance I attended, the shouting, fistfights, and cheerfully vulgar monologues kept the action churning, until a scenery glitch forced a halt and all that manic energy drained away. That disruption in pacing revealed the slightness of the play. Guirgis's fine joking and engaging bluster—all that sound and filthy fury—signifies not fucking much.

 
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1 comments
Mariapopa
Mariapopa

I was delighted by the layers of meaning, the acting, the humor and energy of the show. I'm so glad I saw it, I want to read the play now!

 
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