*There are some places I always thought I’d never see Chris Rock; I’ve always figured I wouldn’t bump into him at Quick Chek getting money from the free ATM or Foot Locker buying Adidas. I also never considered that I would watch him on Broadway either, at least not acting, I figured maybe his stand-up comedy would get a run. I’m pretty sure many others thought the same thing (not about Quick Chek or Footlocker), but about heading to a Broadway play and seeing Chris Rock’s name on the marquee. Good thing director Anna Shapiro and playwright Stephen Adley Gugis didn’t think so, because The Motherf**ker with the Hat was the perfect vehicle for Chris Rock to make his debut on The Great White Way.
Alongside Bobby Cannavale (Will & Grace), Elizabeth Rodriguez, Annabella Sciorra, and Yul Vazquez, Rock holds his own in Gugis’ tale of addiction, recovery, betrayal, and love. Cannavale stars as “Jackie”, a recovering addict and ex-con who suspects his girlfriend “Veronica” (Rodriguez), who’s still using of cheating on him once he spots a hat that doesn’t belong on a table in their apartment. That’s the initial cut into the fabric that unravels to reveal the complexities and philosophies. From that moment, Jackie struggles with his sobriety and rage, while Veronica goes deeper into her addiction. Jackie’s AA sponsor “Ralph D.” (Rock) and wife “Victoria” (Sciorra) have numerous years of sobriety, but are watching their marriage come apart at the seams. Vazquez steals the show as “Julio”, Jackie’s seemingly homosexual cousin.
The provocativeness does not end at the title; I lost count of the “F-bombs” dropped during the opening scene and the rest of the script is littered with language meant to shock, amuse, define, but most importantly authenticate a story based upon harsh realities and crushed dreams. While Chris Rock is the name that gets people in the door,
Cannavale’s star turn is an exploration of redemption and desperation, as we watch Jackie agonize over Veronica’s alleged indiscretion. Overall The Motherf**ker with the Hat is a study of character; Shapiro’s vision of Rugis’ script delves into the worldview and philosophies of each of the players, culminating with Ralph D.’s warped cynicism.
But this is about Chris Rock isn’t it? Not exactly. He’s the star power, but he’s green on the stage, but the material is somewhat of a comfort zone for him. As he gets deeper into the run, the impeccable timing he exhibits in his stand-up will translate on stage and the crowds will settle into seeing him in a different setting. Just make sure you’re in one of those seats, tickets are going fast and the engagement is only fifteen weeks.
About the writer
Between rhetoric and reality is where you’ll find The World According to Teef. Plainfield, NJ native Al-Lateef Farmer is a self-styled social documentarian that tackles everything from politics to pop culture, Reality TV to relationships with a brand of social commentary rooted in independent thought that is unfiltered, uncensored, unforgiving, but never unreal! Take a trip to his world at http://worldaccording2teef.com/