Theater review: 'The Motherf-----' With the Hat' -- 2.5 stars
The Motherf----- With the Hat
You can’t help but wonder what made Chris Rock choose to make his Broadway debut in “The Motherf----- With the Hat.”
While Stephen Adly Guirgis is a distinctive playwright and his new comedic drama has some merit, Rock’s role is pretty small for a star comedian of his stature. Perhaps he wanted to hit Broadway in baby steps?
The play was originally going to premiere Off-Broadway at the Public Theater. But once Rock got involved, it was headed straight to Broadway.
It begins with Jackie (Bobby Cannavale) — a former drunk who is now out on parole after serving two years in prison — suspecting his longtime girlfriend Veronica (Elizabeth Rodriguez) of cheating on him. What proof does he have? Their sheets smell and a man’s hat has been left on the nightstand.
Jackie first looks for help from his sponsor, Ralph D. (Rock), who also once had drinking problems and has since become obsessed with nutritional food and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, much to the frustration of his wife Victoria (Annabella Sciorra). Jackie also gets advice from his cousin Julio (Yul Vasquez).
Guirgis’ foul-mouthed and sexually explicit language is consistently funny, but much of the play drags and its premise quickly wears thin.
The production, however, has been directed with finesse by Anna D. Shapiro, who won a Tony for “August: Osage County.” She highlights the play’s fighting quality and makes it feel authentically raw.
Cannavale delivers a wildly aggressive performance as Jackie, highlighting the character’s confusion and desperate nature.
Rock, on the other hand, portrays the self-satisfied Ralph with a hilarious kind of ease and cockiness.
If you go: “The Motherf----- With the Hat” plays an open run at the Schoenfeld Theatre. 236 W. 45th St., 212-239-6200, themfwiththehat.com