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The Motherf**ker with the Hat

a Atlanta Premiere
by Stephen Adly Guirgis

COMPANY : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
ID# 4260

SHOWING : March 15, 2012 - April 14, 2012



The Motherf**ker with the Hat is a high-octane rollercoaster centered on Veronica and Jackie, who have been in love since 8th grade. Jackie, out on parole, is newly sober. Veronica is anything but. When Jackie finds a mysteriously placed man’s hat in Veronica’s apartment, he suspects that she is having an affair – and the emotional cage match begins. Introduce Jackie's A.A. Sponsor and his wife, along with Jackie’s hilariously fastidious cousin Julio, and you have what the New York Times called “a bruising, tragicomic apache dance of love, betrayal and indecision…by far the most accomplished and affecting work” from playwright Guirgis, whose other plays include Jesus Hopped the A Train and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.

Director Freddie Ashley
Veronica Denise Arribas
Jackie Randy Cohlmia
Ralph D. Neal A Ghant
Cousin Julio Luis Hernandez
Victoria Stacy Melich
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Get with the Program
by Dedalus
Friday, April 20, 2012
Jackie can’t catch a break. On parole after being busted for dealing, he has finally found a job, his relationship with his main squeeze Veronica is reaching steadier ground, and he has been sober for, well, longer than he’s ever been. Then he comes home, finds Veronica’s bed reeking of Aqua Velva and Dick, and, more to the point, the motherf**ker left his hat on the dining room table. Jackie’s always had this anger management issue, so he’s off to see his sponsor before he finds a gun and takes care of the motherf**ker once and for all.

Unless the motherf**ker is really {deleted by the spoiler police}!

So, will he lose his job before the cops find out he has a gun and has fired it in some a**hole’s living room? Will he let himself be seduced by his sponsor’s wife before Veronica finds out about his other little infidelities? Will Veronica bash in his brains if she does find out? Will Cousin Julio tolerate him long enough for him to regain his twelve-step footing?

Such is the set-up for the funny, profane, and altogether terrific “The Motherf**ker with the Hat,” a 2011 Tony nominee from Stephen Adly Guirgis (“The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” and “Jesus Hopped the A Train”), now being given an altogether terrific staging at Actors Express.

You can tell by the title that Mr. Guirgis is poised to inherit David Mamet’s “Poet Laureate of Profanity” hat, but what you can’t tell is how good he is at putting together fractured English, stark imagery, original phraseology and sharply piercing cruelty along with the frequent “F Bombs.” Like Mamet, he is especially good at making inarticulate people find just the right words to articulate their cluelessness, their limitless frustrations, and their basic humanity.

These are people that educated suburbanites like myself rarely encounter in real life, but whose struggles speak to that “we’ve got to be better than this” optimism everyone strives for.

Everyone is (too) quick to let Jackie know how low he really is, how brutal life is, how hopeless any idealism would have to be. Cousin Julio even remarks on how wide is “the gap between who you think you are and who you really are.” But what makes Jackie such a credible and compelling hero is that, even when life proves the pessimists right, when those he trusts the most turn out to be the least trustworthy of all, when his quick-to-flare anger makes him his own worst enemy, he still remains an optimist, still believes everything will turn out for the best.

And, even though the play leaves him {deleted by the spoiler police}, we leave the play with the same optimistic belief in his future.

Director Freddie Ashley has assembled a wonderful cast and orchestrated a fast-paced, constantly compelling production. Randy Cohlmia is a terrific Jackie, part woebegone puppy-eyed victim, part bulldozing wide-eyed avenger. Neal A Ghant adds to his ever-growing resume with a treacherously smooth and calm Ralph D, Jackie’s Twelve-Step sponsor. Stacy Melich is Ralph’s wife Victoria, “Mussolini reincarnated” in one moment, vulnerable seductress in the next. Denise Arribas is Veronica, foul-mouthed and coked-up, petty and cruel, cold-hearted and loving, all in rapid sequence. And Luis Hernandez is a revelation as Cousin Julio, gently fey and starkly Von Damme, compellingly watchable and funny. Philip Male has put together a seedy every-apartment set that becomes three separate residences without losing its gritty Manhattan air, and the whole production roars along, firing on all cylinders and barreling towards its disarmingly sweet finale like a speed freak on a crash-course recovery program.

So, the questions remain, can a person with a hair-trigger temper find happiness with a spitfire who’s still using? Can a hen-pecked husband really be this duplicitous and cynical and remain a viable sponsor? Can a friend made after the age of twenty ever become a real friend, or are we stuck with the friends we had as kids? Will there always be some “motherf**ker with a hat” to derail all our best intentions? And will anyone offended by the word “motherf**ker” care enough to explore these questions with Jackie and company?

Grant me the serenity to accept those who can’t, the strength to convince those who can, and the wisdom to know the difference!

-- Brad Rudy (

The poeticism of "foul" language
by ATL_Theatre_Critique
Sunday, April 1, 2012
The Motherfucker with the Hat was a surprisingly moving piece about growing from immaturity to maturity even if that happens much later in life than what is "supposed to." The script itself is rampant with what, by many's standards would be called "foul" or "offensive" language. However, it is written in such a way that there is a poetry to it, an almost Shakespearian handling of the words so that they mean so much more than the associated meanings, and, by my summation, should hold no offense for anyone but the characters in the play they are being hurled at. The direction was clear, and the acting superb. All in all, I could not have asked for a better way to spend a night. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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