Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The Motherf**ker with the Hat ****
I've already gone on record as not being partial to plays about drug users and dealers, but I will gladly make an exception for Stephen Adly Guirgis's new play at the Schoenfeld. Unless you are totally averse to profanity, don't let the play's title keep you away. Guirgis is a master of using vivid dialogue to build memorable characters, a bit like early Mamet without the pauses. Knee-slapping humor leavens the painful and the profound. The cast is superb. Bobby Cannavale as Jackie, a recent parolee with a volatile temperament, is simply riveting and, in my opinion, Tony-worthy. Elizabeth Rodriguez is fierce as his addict girlfriend Veronica. Yul Vazquez, as Cousin Julio, steals every scene he is in. Annabella Sciorra, as the unhappy wife of Jackie's AA sponsor, Ralph D., is touching. In this high-powered company, Chris Rock as Jackie's duplicitous sponsor Ralph D. is slightly disappointing, although his performance improves as the play progresses. The rotating set by Todd Rosenthal nails the milieu perfectly. Anna D. Shapiro's direction could not be better. I'm glad I didn't let the topic or the language deter me from seeing one of the season's best plays.