Friday November 24th 2017

“The Motherf**ker With The Hat”

mfHighly Recommended****Chicago has been waiting for this one, Steppenwolf’s production of a play that has a title that will stop most people in their tracks, “The Motherf**ker With The Hat” by Stephen Adly Guirgis. Yes, you read it right! Even with letters being replaced by asterisks, there is very little left to the imagination, but to be honest, the shock value of the title fades away very quickly in this look at modern love as an addiction. Directed by Anna D. Shapiro on ne of Steppenwolf’s  cleverest sets ( Todd Rosenthal has outdone himself with this one), this is a slick one hour and forty minutes of sheer artistry.While the story deals with alcohol addiction, drug addiction and of course sex addiction, it is a warm and often humorous look at how our society can easily become addicted to “anything” to fill a void in our lives.

The story begins when Jackie (  ( John Ortiz) comes back to his New York apartment to tell his girlfriend Veronica ( deftly handled by the lovely Sandra Delgado) that he got a job. Jackie is a recovering alcoholic who is on parole while he cleans up his life. The sparks fly as they get ready to have sex when Jackie spots a man’s hat on the table, one that is not his. He then begins to check the apartment for signs of another man being there and their relationship hits a snag. His mood changes and he seeks to find this man and take his revenge.

Jackie leaves the apartment in a rage and goes to see his “sponsor” Ralph ( played to perfection by Jimmy Smits), who tries to console him and invites him to stay with him until he can sort things out. His wife,Victoria ( another solid performance by Sandra Marquez) has her own problems with Ralph, but allows Jackie to stay. The other character in this story, the one that brings most of the comic touches to the show is Cousin Julio ( an outstanding character study by Gary Perez), who as it turns out, is probably the most normal one in the play. The play moves fast as we move from apartment to apartment with very little delay as the walls change from place to place on a turntable stage and couches rise from below the stage as replacement while the others take their place. As I said, this is a clever set.mf2

But despite the great set, the chilling lighting (Donald Holder), and the enchanting original music (Terrence Blanchard) it is the finely tuned cast that makes this production one to put on you “to see” list. Each actor defines his or her role and allows you to enter into their sole. These are all people who struggle with a sort of loneliness, a struggle to survive and a desire to hold onto “something” that has meaning for them. Let’s face it, we all have addictions! It can be drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, sex, playing video games, spending time online or just watching television, but in some shape, we have a void that this addiction fills for us.

While these characters appear to be in many ways stereotypes- We know they are Puerto Ricans, who for one reason or another have made bad choices due to their upbringing, are they so different from other cultures? As we look around at the people sitting in the theater, could some of these people have lived through experiences that Guirgis brings to his story? Possible! Very possible! There are some little twists in the story that I will not divulge as I would hate to ruin the story for you, but despite its constant use of the F word, I was not offended by the language. Our world has changed and cuss words are used as a form of expression unlike the days when  grew up, so if this offends you, it will not be in your best interest to view this production. BUT, if you enjoy good story-telling and fine acting, this is one that you should NOT miss.

“Mother” will continue at Steppenwolf Theatre located at 1650 N. Halsted Street through March 3rd ( in The Downstairs Theater) with performances as follows:

Tuesdays thru Sundays at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday matinees (in February only) at 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m.

EXCEPTIONS: on 2/17  will be a touch tour at 1:30 p.m. that audio describes for visionally impaired patrons, then the 3 p.m. show BUT no evening performance.

Following every performance there will be a post show discussion.

Tickets for “Mother” range from $20- $86 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 312-335-1650 or online at www.steppenwolf.org

Students can get discounts at $15 using the code “HAT15” and of course as always RUSH tickets are offered at $20, one hour prior ro curtain ( subject to availability)

To see what others say, visit www.theatreinchicago.com

click on review round-up and then click on to “Mother”

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