By Justine ReSPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
“The Mother****** with the Hat” is a high-intensity play filled with suspense and hilarity. The Stephen Adly Guirgis text is brought to life by the vivacious cast. At the start of the show, Veronica, played by Kiana Kountze, captures the audience’s attention as she cleans her room and talks on the phone. Kountze is a spitfire and her energy sets the precedence for the rest of the show. Following suit, Jackie, played by Isaiah C. Stanley, feeds off of Kountze as he enters the scene.
Jackie is a new man as he has been sober for a great deal of time and has a new job. This excellent news puts Jackie and his girlfriend Veronica in the best of moods, as they are ready to enjoy their new life together. However, that victorious high comes to a halt when Jackie finds a hat. The hat does not belong to him, which leads him to believe that Veronica has cheated on him. Subsequently, Jackie reverts to being an alcoholic and seeks help from his sponsor and friend Ralph.
Ralph is a sober hippie and tries to get Jackie back on track. The juxtaposition between Jackie’s tough guy swag and Ralph’s earthy vibe, work together to make their scenes downright hysterical. Chip Connell, playing Ralph, left the audience in hysterics. One of the best parts of the show was when he rolled across the stage showing how limber he was from surfing.
Another character that steals the show is Julio, played by Sean J. Morgan. The characters Jackie, Ralph and Julio, work in tandem to nail the balance of urgency and humor throughout the scenes. Jackie gets a hold of a gun as he shoots the notorious hat to release his anger. Since Jackie has the gun, he needs a place to store it so that his parole officer doesn’t find it. He asks Julio to store the gun in his house. The choices that that the actors make in this scene are precise. Julio is frustrated by Jackie and he releases his anger by vigorously spraying the plants in his apartment. The choice was hysterical. This nuance that Moran added to his character reveals the attention to detail that went into this show.
Besides the choices that enhance the humor in the show, the characters also make choices that serve to execute the emotional scenes. Shiela Springer, the actor that plays Victoria, brought a raw quality to the role. This organic and vulnerable nature was exposed in the scene where Victoria told Jackie that Ralph was having an affair with Veronica (Ralph is Victoria’s husband). This scene was heavy as Victoria revealed the truth about the infidelity that permeated throughout the show.
Another strong scene occurs when Jackie writes a drunken song about Veronica. Stanley uses his drunken physicality to not only make the audience laugh, but also feel sad for the character at the same time.
The acting in this show was superb. Besides the raw talent and technique of the actors, the direction definitely contributed to the show.
According to the director Morgan, Roysten Coppenger, “gave the actors a lot of freedom to play.” The freedom of the actors was apparent on stage making the show very believable and realistic, as if you were watching your friends interact.The characters take the audience on a journey.
“The story has no good guy or bad guy,“ Morgan said.
I think that is what makes the play so poignant. Throughout the show the characters cheat on one another, go to jail and are violent. But the audience does not take sides. Behind their flaws are genuine people. This play says a great deal about the human condition and the outstanding cast was the right vehicle to convey this idea.