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Why the Hat Got Shot

Dick Price & Sharon Kyle: Their emotions rocketing from high to low and back again, the pair prepare to celebrate this triumph with a lovemaking session they promise will drive the bed right through the floor.
Motherfucker With the Hat

Gabrielle Walsh as Vernonica and Jeremy Luke as Jackie

Now extended through mid December, Stephen Adly Giuris’s “The Motherfucker With the Hat” explodes upon the stage at North Hollywood’s Theatre 68, blistering your ears with expletive-ladden dialog while sucking you into the screwy thought processes of addicts of one sort or another trying to take one step, if not twelve, in a better direction.

Their emotions rocketing from high to low and back again, the pair prepare to celebrate this triumph with a lovemaking session they promise will drive the bed right through the floor.

Sweethearts since the eighth grade, two Puerto Rican lovers share a crappy New York City apartment where Vernonica (Gabrielle Walsh) prepares for her newly sober lover’s return from jail by snorting coke, swigging vodka, and advising her mother over the phone to do something about her drinking.

Just back from two years up the river for low-level drug crimes and now struggling mightily to stay clean and sober, Jackie (Jeremy Luke) bursts through the door with the proud news that he has found a job—a crappy job, no doubt, but honest work.

Their emotions rocketing from high to low and back again, the pair prepare to celebrate this triumph with a lovemaking session they promise will drive the bed right through the floor. And they clearly both have the passion to do it. But while Vernonica freshens up with a shower, Jackie notices a man’s hat on the table. He doesn’t wear a hat. He doesn’t recognize the hat. Surely Veronica wouldn’t wear such a hat. Trouble ensues.

The discovery plummets Jackie into the bowels of unreasoned jealousy and suspicion, which leads to a nose-to-nose, high volume, rapid fire argument. Veronica more than holds her own against her larger, stronger boyfriend, so Jackie stomps off in search of gun, either to kill Vernonica or some motherfucker with a hat.

Motherfucker With the Hat

Paul Tully, Daniel V. Gaulau, Jeremy Luke, and Gisla Stringer.

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For moral support, if not the gun, Jackie seeks out Ralph (Paul Tully), his AA sponsor, who has taken Vernonica to visit Jackie in prison for the two years he’s been locked up. In 15 years of sobriety, Ralph has managed to cherry-pick that recovery program’s precepts to support his own errant behavior, deluding himself, for example, that his wife, Victoria (Gisla Stringer), doesn’t mean it when she says she has good reason to hate him.

“Acceptance is the key,” Ralph intones serenely.

Better support, or at least different support, comes from Jackie’s cousin Julio (Daniel V. Gaulau), a weightlifting nutrition nut, who offers to wreck havoc on his cousin’s behalf.

As directed by Salvatore Inzerillo, what strikes you about “Hat” is the way the entire talented crew delivers powerful, fraught dialog in sometimes long, rapid-fire sequences that gets your pulse quickening, taking you in under the skin of people who live on such emotional rollercoasters.

While Theatre 68’s intimate setting pulls you into the lives so adroitly portrayed on stage, the play’s moral core may prove elusive. Perhaps it’s enough to glimpse the anguish of lives lived so close to the edge.

“Hat” provides a must-see companion to Stephen Adly Giuris’s “Between Riverside and Crazy” currently playing at The Fountain Theatre through January 26th.

[dc]“T[/dc]he Motherfucker With the Hat” runs Fridays, Saturdays, and select Sundays through December 14th at Theatre 68, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.

dick and sharon

Dick Price & Sharon Kyle