Police Blotter

About Us

Stater Archives

School of Communication

The Cleveland Stater YouTube Channel Visit us at:

The Cleveland Stater Facebook Page The Cleveland Stater Twitter The Cleveland Stater YouTube Channel


‘Motherf**ker’ plays at Dobama Theatre

October 11, 2012

By Kevin Liszka

The title “The Motherf**ker With the Hat” kind of pops off the page, doesn’t it? So, too, does the play itself, currently on stage at Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights.

Stephen Aldy Guirgis’ comedic drama is set in a fictional urban borough and opens with the introduction of Jackie, a working class Latino ex-addict fresh out of jail and striving to get his life back. He greets his wildcat girlfriend Veronica at the door with an assortment of gifts and she is about to dance for him with Beyoncé-like appreciation when, across the room, he notices a man’s hat. And it’s not his. This startling revelation sets in motion an outrageous chain of events, with the rest of the play tracking Jackie’s misadventures as he attempts to stay on the straight and narrow and find that motherf**ker with the hat.

Photo by Pat Hayes

Dobama director Dianne Boduszek’s simple approach to contemporary delivery of this recent off-Broadway work gives it the feel and pace of a made-for-television sitcom. It runs with no intermission — just five characters — and the stage is filled with a minimalistic set design, consisting of three levels of platforms representing the respective abodes of Jackie’s AA sponsor Ralph (Chris Kartali) and his wife Victoria (Bernadette Clemens), Jackie’s sexually ambiguous cousin Julio (Jimmie Woody), and the run-down apartment Jackie (Jeremy Kendall) shares with Veronica (Anjanette Hall). And, like a sitcom, these characters are endearing, simply drawn and inherently flawed. Oh, and they are some of the most unlikeable likable people imaginable. Throughout the performance, they curse like middle schoolers new to the vernacular, act impulsively and everybody is looking to satisfy some need that puts the others at risk.

In fact, the success of the play is dependent on the audience sympathizing with each character’s flaws, plights and impulsive control issues as exaggerations of their own. And it works. Each actor’s performance effectively toys with the audience’s emotions by first offering us a laugh track moment and then immediately turning things on their ear. You can hear a pin drop, for example, when Jackie, puts his extracurricular activities with Veronica on hold and pauses, stone-cold and in mid-motion, upon the dramatic discovery of the hat. We find Veronica purring with affection and then turning so angry that she proclaims the desire to “punt a mother**kin’ three-legged kitten” down the stairs. Chris Kartali’s Ralph is right out of “Seinfield,” he is the innocent and flamboyant Kramer in one breath and the conniving George in another.

“The Motherf**ker With the Hat” is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. If the title doesn’t grab you, all that occurs on stage certainly will.