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  The Motherf**ker with the Hat at Steppenwolf Theatre

The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Steppenwolf Theatre
1650 N. Halsted Chicago

Things are on the up and-up for recovering alcoholic Jackie and girlfriend Veronica—until Jackie spots another man’s hat in their apartment, and embarks on a sublimely incompetent criminal quest for vengeance. Fast-paced and uproarious, Mother… also asks probing questions about the havoc addiction wreaks. Ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro, director of the acclaimed Broadway premiere, returns to the helm with a new cast. Stephen Adly Guirgis is a playwright, screenwriter, director, actor and co-artistic director of LAByrinth Theater Company in New York City.

Thru - Mar 3, 2013

Price: $20-$86

Stage: Downstairs Theatre

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-335-1650

Running Time: 1hr, 40mins

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  The Motherf**ker with the Hat Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...Where the New York production had featured explosive verbal pyrotechnics delivered with the dial stuck at maximum intensity, the Steppenwolf show is gentler, quieter, less funny, less sexualized and quite poignant. John Ortiz, who plays Jackie, the young Puerto Rican man trying to get all sides of his act together in tough circumstances, is much more vulnerable. Ortiz is really very moving here: I don't know how much Guirgis was thinking of his fellow Labyrinth Theater Company colleague when he first wrote this part, but it clearly fits this superb actor."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"..."Mother------," which debuted on Broadway in 2011 with a starry cast under the direction of Tony Award-winning Chicago director Anna D. Shapiro, now is receiving its Steppenwolf Theatre premiere. It arrives here expertly retuned by Shapiro, and with an entirely different but equally starry cast that comes with a decidedly effective Latin twist."
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Hedy Weiss

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Exacerbating this slippery moral orientation is Guirgis' dialogue, which comes at us thick and fast, laced with vulgarity-the "Hallelujah Chorus" of vulgarity, the "Battle Hymn Of The Republic" of vulgarity, the "Stars And Stripes Forever" of vulgarity-steeped in florid metaphorical euphony that you want to explicate as you would poetry. Playgoers capable of delving David Mamet's psychological dynamics, though, are unlikely to let a few expletives and Todd Rosenthal's spinning-unit scenery dazzle them into compliance."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Centerstage - Highly Recommended

"...There is a very special theatergoing opportunity at Steppenwolf, where Stephen Adly Guirgis’ monumentally enjoyable play “The Motherf**cker with the Hat,” directed by its original Broadway director (Anna D. Shapiro), is now playing through March 3. Unflinching and hysterically funny, this is the kind of play you will be thinking about for quite some time. At first glance, we may think that we have nothing in common with the people in the play, but after a few minutes, we see ourselves in every single character."

Joseph Bowen

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...Directed here, as in its Broadway production, by Anna D. Shapiro, Guirgis’s work crests and falls with its characters’ choppy emotions, featuring impressive performances but missing the enduring oomph of such pieces as The Last Days of Judas Iscariot or In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings. Smits, known for his extensive TV work as well as his stage roles, gives Ralph a faux-Zen low thrum that makes it easy to imagine falling for his bullshit, and harder to picture comedian Chris Rock’s wiry electricity in the role (which Rock created in his Broadway acting debut). Ortiz brings a bit too much ambiguity to his jittery Jackie as he moves among the play’s three environments (with impressive clockwork transformations by set designer Todd Rosenthal)."
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Kris Vire

ShowBizChicago - Recommended

"...Ms. Shapiro directs her able cast with verve but on opening, they still seemed a bit under rehearsed. All the performers are certainly up for the task of making these characters assessable and even at times likable. There are two standouts here. Mr. Smits is a commanding presence on the stage with great comic timing to boot and Ms. Delgado proves once again that she is a force of nature no matter what character she is playing. Speaking of stages, set designer Todd Rosenthal has re-reated his Broadway set which masterfully flips and turns making the scene changes as fun to watch as the show itself."
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Michael Roberts

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"..."The ________ With the Hat," a very smart, raw, funny and poignant play that sizzles at Steppenwolf Theatre under the direction of Anna D. Shapiro, who also directed the play's Tony Award-nominated premiere on Broadway in 2011."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...With such rapid-fire dialogue keeping the laughs flowing, Anna D. Shapiro, who also directed the show's Broadway premiere, proves that an extended silence is one of the best ways to evoke a somber mood in serious sections. She also makes great blocking decisions, taking advantage of the actors' size differences: Jackie literally has look up to Ralph D. as he stands in his lovely living room and great physical humor is employed with the scrawny Julio trying to physically confront Ralph."
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Samantha Nelson

Splash Magazine - Highly Recommended

"...It is somewhat ironic that the only thing censored in The Motherf**ker With The Hat is the title. Those two *s aside, this play is one unflinching dark comedy about addiction with dialogue as sharp and jagged as a broken bottle. Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis and directed by Anna D. Shapiro, Motherf**ker opens with Jackie (John Ortiz) recently paroled, sober and newly employed. As he lies in bed waiting for his lover (Sandra Delgado as Veronica) to return from the shower he spies an unfamiliar man's hat. Jackie wastes little time before confronting Veronica and thus begins an odyssey of sorts with Jackie moving further and further along a maze of AA cliches and betrayals."
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Noel Schecter

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...The Motherf**ker With The Hat is , indeed, about addiction on many levels that ultimately shows us how we keep fooling ourselves as we use our addictions or habits to keep ourselves from taking responsibility for our lives. This play contains lessons on how we use our habits or addictions to mask our self-delusional behavior. It has much to say and it says it with humor and profanity. I think this is Stephen Adly Guirgis' finest play. Jimmy Smits and John Ortiz are particularly outstanding here."
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Tom Williams

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Somewhat Recommended

"... This Steppenwolf version has Jimmy Smits (Ralph) in the Rock role. A veteran actor, Smits plays it with his smooth-talking perfection. But without Rock’s natural, over-the-top, wacky, vulgarity, the cursing feels forced. Not just with Smits, everybody is swearing like sailors. It feels contrived and gimmicky like a movie putting in more f-bombs to get an R rating to boost sales. Shapiro also directed the Tony-nominated Broadway show. And her Steppenwolf ensemble is fine but without el muy loco motherf#cker exploiting the comedic elements, it remains soap opera-esque."
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Katy Walsh

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...Directed by Anna D. Shapiro on one 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."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...With its deeply human qualities, ‘Motherf**ker with the Hat’ is a definite must see. Poignant, witty, and heart felt, this intimate production with leave you wondering about Jackie’s fate. I highly recommend staying after for the post-show talk Steppenwolf conducts after every performance."

Cat Wilson

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"..."Hat" was a success on Broadway in 2011 but I suspect that the Steppenwolf production trumps the New York City staging. There was much criticism of the Big Apple presentation as loud, shrill, and over the top, with the characters screaming at each other at maximum decibel levels. Anna Shapiro was the Broadway director and she also guides the Steppenwolf presentation. Apparently Shapiro has rethought her interpretation because the Steppenwolf production is carefully and subtly modulated to build from comedy to a dramatic credible finish. So when the big dramatic payoffs come as the play concludes, the actors are allowed to ascend an emotional arc that leaves the audience as involved at the end as they were in the opening moments."

Dan Zeff

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   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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