Victor Machado and Catia in Burbage Theater Company's production of "The Motherf***er with the Hat" Source: Burbage Theater Company

Review: 'The Motherf***er With The Hat' a Depressing 95 Minutes of Theater

Joe Siegel READ TIME: 3 MIN.

"The Motherf***er With The Hat" is Burbage Theatre Company's closing show of their 2023-2024 season.

Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis has cobbled together a storyline which seems like a collection of episodes of the "Jerry Springer" show. There is alcoholism, drug use, marital infidelity, domestic violence, and other sordid revelations. And yelling. Lots and lots of yelling.

Victor Machado is Jackie, an ex-con and recovering alcoholic trying to rebuild his life. He flips out after finding a hat in the apartment he shares with his girlfriend Veronica (Catia), a drug addict. An insanely jealous Jackie grills Veronica and vows to find the motherf***er with the hat.

In the course of the show, Jackie is struck with a baseball bat, bashed in the face during a particularly brutal fight, and treated to some shocking information about the woman he loves, including that his AA sponsor, Ralph, has had intimate sexual encounters with Veronica while he was in prison. To top it off, Ralph is married to Victoria (Marleny Luna). Their marriage is not a happy one; she tells Jackie that Ralph has destroyed her life.

Victor Machado and Anthony Goes in Burbage Theater Company's production of "The Motherf***er with the Hat"
Source: Burbage Theater Company

As the cycle of betrayals and breakups continue, Guirgis tacks on an ending which is intended to pull at the heartstrings but is rendered pointless after the unrelenting hostility expressed between Jackie and Veronica.

From a purely technical standpoint, the show is well made. Trevor Elliott's set design uses video screens to immerse the audience in the wild cityscape of New York.

Jackie Davis' direction is polished and the actors all give vibrant performances. Machado skillfully whisks Jackie through an emotional meat grinder of rage, insecurity, and betrayal. He teeters on the edge of self-destruction and uncontrollable violence.

Anthony Goes, who has appeared in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Junk," gives another excellent turn as Ralph. It's a tricky role, and Goes is always compelling to watch. The relationship between Ralph and Jackie becomes increasingly strained as the truth about Ralph's involvement with Veronica is discovered. It turns out Jackie has been cheating on Veronica, too.

Anthony Goes, Victor Machado, and Arturo Puentes in Burbage Theater Company's production of "The Motherf***er with the Hat"
Source: Burbage Theater Company

Catia, a Burbage veteran, is appropriately vulnerable and fiery as a woman struggling to overcome her own demons and hold on to a rapidly deteriorating relationship. Arturo Puentes provides some invaluable comic support as Julio, Jackie's well-meaning cousin, who looks out for Jackie and doesn't want to see him get hurt. Jackie is too selfish and self-absorbed to appreciate Julio's compassion.

"The Motherf***er With The Hat" has an utterly cynical view of human nature. For 95 minutes, we see awful people doing awful things to each other. There is no redeeming value to be found in any of these characters; they are simply miserable hypocrites who don't learn from their mistakes and seem doomed to keep repeating them, hurting others in the process. I like stories where there is hope for someone to grow and change and become a better person. There's none of that here; it's just a depressing experience.

"The Motherf***er With The Hat" runs through June 16. Burbage Theatre Company. 59 Blackstone Avenue. Pawtucket, RI. For tickets, call 401-484-0355 or visit

by Joe Siegel

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.

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