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The Motherfucker with the Hat

If Martin Scorcese and Tennessee Williams got really drunk, did some blow, and then sat down and wrote A Streetcar Named Desire for modern audiences, it would look a lot like The Motherfucker with the Hat.

The infamously profane 2011 play by Steven Adly Guirgis saw a Friday night rendition by Lost In Translation Theatre at the William Magarey Room at the Adelaide Oval. The performance is a confronting and obscene study of addiction, love, betrayal and a poor, blameless hat.

Jackie's out of jail and on the straight and narrow, until he comes home to a mysterious hat in his girlfriend Veronica's place, leading to a colourful dispute on the bed's alleged fragrances of dick. This is the first in a torrid of explosive and often hilarious exchanges involving criminally insane childhood friends, a cousin in-the-closet, a sanctimonious douchebag sponsor, and verbal and physical assault.

Hold on, this isn't a comedy? Can someone tell the lady in front of me? She's laughing at weird moments and it's deeply bewildering.

Undeniable tragedy of the hat's violent end aside, The Motherfucker with the Hat produces an unflinching and visceral rendering that blends humour and trauma to pummel the audience into attention. Some of the laughs are cheap, like cousin Julio's mildly offensive comedic support, but this is hardly a show for the easily offended. The title's pretty up-front about that.

My thoughts on the debate of censorship in media aren't really relevant - though they are summed up quite nicely by the famous "ssscchhheeeiiiitt" scene from The Wire - but I think here it lends authenticity to the raw and broken humanity on display. Sadly, the internet could not tell me how many f-bombs the play drops, but I'm somehow glad my work led me to put that into a search bar.

The Motherfucker with the Hat is a bazooka-among-rifles kind of play. It lacks the nuance, direction and precision of many of its contemporaries, but still leaves a massive impact.

But why did the hat have to die?

★★★½

Matt McKenzie

Matt McKenzie

Language wrangler, ocelot breeder, culture nerd and international jewel thief; a man as preposterous as his claims of exotic feline husbandry or daring cat burglary.

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