*Critics have weighed in on comedian Chris Rock’s Broadway debut in The Motherf**Ker With The Hat, which had its official opening Monday night (April 11).
As previously reported, the actor plays Ralph, an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor who tries to mentor an ex-con and recovering addict named Jackie, portrayed by Bobby Cannavale. But things get complicated when Jackie finds a man’s hat in his girlfriend’s apartment and suspects she’s having an affair.
The New York Times’ reviewer is the most complimentary of the star, branding his performance a “solid Broadway debut,” but others weren’t so kind.
The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney said Rock’s delivery “is predictably sharp, but for a comic who picked up where Richard Pryor left off, he’s a little low-energy. While Ralph is all slick talk and calculated charm, Rock seems tentative in the role, failing to convey the dark side of a scammer operating entirely according to his own agenda. And while he lands plenty of laugh lines, Ralph’s big cards-on-the-table talk to Jackie doesn’t add up to much.”
A New York Magazine critic compliments Rock’s “flawless timing and devastating delivery”, but concedes “he’s just not a natural,” while a writer for Variety claims Broadway appears to be “too much of a stretch” for the comic.
The New York Post’s Elisabeth Vincentelli says Rock is “a lightweight” who is outshone by the “more experienced, more assured Cannavale,” and a reviewer for the Wall Street Journal adds, “His inexperience shows.”
The New York Daily News’ Joe Dziemianowicz says of Rock’s performance, “It would seem that the X-rated ranting Ralph D. would make a good fit for Rock, but it works against him. Rock gives the character a good shot, but when he delivers Ralph D.’s lines in his trademark grunts and high-pitched voice, it’s too close to what’s become his own comic speciality…”