James Ryan Gobuty
Shakespeare’s Juliet asks “what’s in a name?” Well, in the case of a show called The Motherfucker with the Hat, the answer seems to be this: very much indeed. When a show is audacious enough to reveal such a provocative title out on the street, and put itself in the company of plays like Shopping and Fucking, it certainly has to put its money where its mouth is: something that the Bob Kills Theatre production certainly does.
The Motherfucker with the Hat, written by Stephen Adly Guirgis, tells the story of Veronica (Melissa D’Agostino) and Jackie (Sergio Di Zio) as they pick up their relationship after Jackie is released from prison. The couple’s relationship is volatile at best, and made more so by the classic recipe of alcohol, cocaine and a pinch of infidelity. As Jackie turns to others for solace – his sponsor Ralph D (Ted Dykstra), Ralph’s wife Victoria (Nicole Stamp), and his Cousin Julio (Juan Chioran) – he finds that his support system is just as messed up as he is.
Guirgis’ script for Motherfucker is spot on as it weaves from humour to seriousness and from violence to amorousness; this is something that director Layne Coleman translated perfectly in the naturalistic set and in-the-round staging of the play.
On the topic of staging, veteran set and lighting designer Steve Lucas really outdid himself on the deceptively simple design of the play. The lighting in the production is particularly excellent, and was made all the more impressive by the fact that all of it is provided by hanging lamps and table lamps, resulting in a truly impressive naturalistic feel to the production.
The acting in the show is also particularly outstanding. Indeed, every actor on stage demonstrated an amount of craftsmanship that isn’t exactly easy to find. D’Agostino and Di Zio have great chemistry on stage, with the former embodying the “fuck you” attitude par excellence, and the latter really showing the emotional depth of a character that could easily be performed as a simple meat-head. The fan favourite of the show had to be Juan Chioran’s depiction of Cousin Julio, which brought the perfect balance of comic relief, campiness, and genuine emotion.
All in all, I’d say that the Bob Kills Theatre production of The Motherfucker with the Hat is a great success. Every aspect of the show – from the script, to the design, to the acting – comes together to make this show, replete with foul language and a fair bit of violence, into a play with a lot of depth and insight. The Motherfucker with the Hat is not afraid to show you the dark side of a love story, and you shouldn’t be afraid to watch.
The Motherfucker with the Hat is playing at The Coal Mine theatre, 798 Danforth Avenue (underneath Magic Oven Pizza.)The play runs until November 30, at 7:30 on all days but Monday. Tickets can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com for $30.