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Badass Broadway Sex Farce The Motherfucker With the Hat Makes L.A. Debut (GO!)

Christopher Amitrano in The Motherfucker With the Hat
Christopher Amitrano in The Motherfucker With the Hat
Photo by Zac Titus

Just when you thought the savagely scabrous sex farce had gone the way of manual typewriters and telephone booths, along comes The Motherfucker With the Hat, Stephen Adly Guirgis’ gleefully blasphemous, high-velocity 2011 rumination on man’s inhumanity to — and blithe sexual betrayal of — man.

The play premiered on Broadway, starring Chris Rock and Bobby Cannavale and, after a staging last year at South Coast Rep in Orange County, it's now making its L.A. debut.

After being paroled, high-strung Puerto Rican ex-con Jackie (a balefully funny Christopher Amitrano) comes home with a legitimate job and high hopes for settling down with his hot-blooded childhood sweetheart, Veronica (Melissa Pino). But his determination to keep to the straight and narrow and to his court-supervised sobriety is no match for Veronica’s fondness for cocaine and for whoever forgot the titular mini-fedora that Jackie discovers on the nightstand.

In the best tradition of Georges Feydeau, Jackie chases his dignity through an ever-recursive cascade of outrageously casual treacheries and matter-of-fact felonies, even as his quest for the fedora’s owner brings him closer to a more profound and perilously implicating self-knowledge.

The show suffers from the strained set-change logistics of director Martin Papazian’s otherwise sure-footed staging. A sterling ensemble (including Keili Lefkovitz and standouts Shaun Duke and Alex Désert) ably showcases Guirgis’ unerring ear for lumpen–New York patois in their deliriously machine-gunned delivery of the profane invective uttered by the play’s collection of likable hypocrites, moral dwarves and good-hearted human train wrecks.

Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park; through August 10. (323) 366-2460, mfwiththehat.com.


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