Entertainment » Theatre

The Motherf**ker With the Hat

by Richard Rosario
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Nov 7, 2017
The Motherf**ker With the Hat

The play with the salacious name opened this past weekend at the Las Vegas Little Theatre, in the Black Box.

"The Motherf**ker With the Hat," is a tale of betrayal, jealousy, and moral relativism. The play debuted on Broadway to mixed reviews. I agree the script is a little uneven. However, it does not lack in-your-face drama and realism.

The acting is the reason you should not miss this play. Four of the five actors are new volunteers to the Las Vegas Little Theatre stages. Every one of them turns in a compelling and memorable performance.

The story begins with a typical lover's spat taking place in a dingy apartment in New York City. The row is between a typical, young New York Puerto Rican couple. Jackie (D.J. Hale) is a parolee trying to stay sober. His girlfriend, Veronica, (Amanda Guardado) is a drug addict who afflicts rather than comforts or supports.

Jackie is a disappointment to Veronica. He promised her a house, and a life. All he has accomplished is a prison term. As an ex-con, he bounces from job to job. Veronica is fed up, and she is looking for something, and someone else. The loneliness in both characters is palpable.

Jackie seeks comfort and support from his cousin, Julio (Rene F. Cobar). Jackie verbally abuses Julio. He torments Julio about being in the closet based on his effeminate behavior. Julio defends himself quite ineffectively by referencing his longtime girlfriend, Marisol, who always seems to be out of town on business.

Cobar is a source of much of the humor in this serious comedy. He cooks, sings and prances around his apartment while dispensing unsolicited advice to Jackie. Julio's mannerisms are definitely effeminate, and he hilariously tries to cover them awkwardly with typical Latin machismo. He references his faithful gym attendance and claims to be a martial arts expert. Unfortunately, Julio's only skills are in his imagination.

The physical acting by all the actors is incredible. The violence is so authentic it appears the actors are hitting one another with their full force. They are not afraid to get in each other's faces.

When Jackie discovers a hat belonging to someone else in Veronica's apartment, he assumes it must belong to the 'mother-effer' who is sleeping with his girlfriend. Jackie is no saint. He had an affair, and now Veronica exacts her revenge in a most wicked way.

Unbeknownst to Jackie, the owner of the hat is none other than his sponsor, and friend Ralph D. (Ronn L. Williams). Ralph is an opportunist who lives with his wife, Victoria (Gigi Guizado), in an apartment upstairs from Veronica's. He is having an ongoing affair with Veronica that began when Jackie was in prison.

The moment Hale hits the stage, there is magic. I cannot imagine Chris Rock, the actor in the play's Broadway premiere, could have equaled Hale's performance. Like a superstar athlete, Hale makes everyone around him better. That is not to say the other members of the cast do not bring their own magic to the stage.

Guardado, a UNLV sophomore makes her first ever appearance in a play. As Veronica, she is profane with a hard edge that ineffectively hides her obvious vulnerability. She really did love Jackie at one time. But that is over. She now keeps everyone at arm's length.

Williams portrays Ralph's duplicity like a water faucet. He turns the charm on and off to manipulate everyone, and to deflect from the awful things he has done. He hides behind the adage, "I'm not perfect. I'm only human." Ralph claims to owe Jackie nothing more than to share with him how to stay sober.

Victoria knows about her husband's affairs. To retaliate, she tries to seduce Jackie and engages him in a sexual wrestling match. Jackie responds by being truly tempted but resisting with moral resolve. Guardado is both erotic, and repulsive in her sexual advances and drunkenness.

The director (Brandon Alan McClanahan) makes some interesting choices. The theater seating is set in a square. The action continues during the scene changes with actor's pantomiming their actions in the foreground while volunteers set the next scene. Both are effective. The seating choice brings the audience closer to the action. The continual motion of the actors during the set changes keeps the play moving. This is important because the play has a run time of nearly two hours, including a fifteen-minute intermission, after a ninety-minute first act.

"The Motherf**ker With the Hat," runs through November 19 in the Black Box Theatre at the Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89103. For information or tickets, call 702-362-7996 or visit www.LVLT.org

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