“Being in love with Veronica – it’s like feeding your love to Godzilla every morning.” Jackie is in love with Veronica. He has loved her since eighth grade. Fast forward two decades and Jackie is fresh out of prison and unemployed while Veronica has a drug habit and is sleeping around with another man – that unidentified mother**cker with the hat. Happily Ever After is a lot more miserable, having been suffocated by drugs, crime and infidelity. Yet their love endures. But for how much longer? How much toxicity can two people bear?
Stephen Adly Guirgis’ The Mother F**ker With The Hat paints a heightened but realistic picture of how humans cope with their shit. The play is as much about infidelity as it is about navigating the many extremes of human emotions we deal with every day. From unadulterated rage to drunken sorrow to relentless desire and that elusive quest for happiness, each character rides the rollercoaster of life searching for legitimation.
Workhorse Theatre Company presents a solid production. Although it takes a good 20 minutes to settle into the action and for the actors to synch into a rhythm, by the end, Guirgis’ dialogue is absolutely flying as the cast explosively bounce off each other.
Zoe Trilsbach is a charmingly brutish Veronica, with an effortless watchability onstage. Troy Harrison’s Jackie was hardest to ease into but he was on fire by the end, heroically never playing the victim. Nigel Turner-Carroll’s preened and peacocked Cousin Julio was delightfully detailed and hilarious to watch. John Atkinson’s Ralph was smarmy and unlikeable for all the right reasons.
The most compelling performance of the night came from Megan O’Connell’s Victoria. Although O’Connell had the least amount to say, her moments were most heartbreaking as we watched a bright, middle-aged woman crippled by a loveless marriage.
When The Mother F**ker With The Hat opened last year to a sell-out season at The Tap Gallery, I stood in the theatre foyer on closing night begging to be sold a ticket to no avail. Something tells me the more grungy setting of The Tap Gallery would have naturally lent itself to the habitat of the play. Transportation to the generous Eternity Playhouse stage has assumedly breathed space into the production, making elaborate set changes possible.
Yet although Dylan Tonkin’s set cleverly dismantles and is remodeled for each change of scenery, there is something lost in the clinical nature of the classic scene change. The realism of Tonkin’s set enhances the realism of the play, however there is a grittiness present in the script and performances that is begging to be echoed in the set design.
See The Mother F**ker With The Hat to be intellectually and emotionally stimulated to better understand the motivations behind people’s perceived ‘bad’ choices. At almost two hours without interval, it’s compelling theatre. Sydney audiences are lucky to get a second chance to see this production in its reboot with Darlinghurst Theatre Company. I know I was.
Director: Adam Cook Cast: John Atkinson, Troy Harrison, Megan O’Connell, Zoe Trilsbach, Nigel Turner Carroll Composer / Sound Designer: Marty Hailey Lighting Designer: Ben Brockman Set / Costume Design: Dylan Tonkin
The Mother F**ker with the Hat
Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton Street
Performance: Tuesday 23 September 2014 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 19 October 2014
Bookings: (02) 8356 9987 or online at: www.darlinghursttheatre.com
For more information, visit: www.darlinghursttheatre.com for details.
Image: Troy Harrison and Zoe Trilsbach – photo by Kurt Sneddon
Review: Maryann Wright
Maryann Wright is a performer and writer. She has a Diploma of Musical Theatre from Brent Street and a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) from The University of Sydney. Recent performance credits include Heart of a Dog (Australian premiere), Carrie (Squabbalogic) and Urinetown (Brent Street). Journalism credits include The Guardian, news.com.au and Girlfriend Magazine. www.maryannwright.com.au