I was in New York last week, and saw "The Motherf**ker With The Hat".
Chris Rock was in it.
That's why I saw it.
That's probably why everybody saw it.
There was a largely black audience.
Certainly larger than any show I've ever attended.
Since Chris Rock was the only black member of the cast, it probably accounts for the demographic breakdown.
It is about the drug culture, friendship, lying, cheating, and self-discovery.
It is very funny, and very dramatic.
It is a really good play.
It would probably be a really good play without Chris Rock.
But not as good.
On to the scoring:
Is it interesting?
It is relentlessly interesting.
Is it controversial? Do you think about it after you've seen it?
Yes, and quite often.
Is it funny?
Asked and answered.
Is it a story worth telling?
It is quite thought-provoking, and quite dynamically told.
Is it good storytelling?
For the most part. It doesn't end as well as it begins, which is always a bit of a letdown, but it moves like a bullet.
Is it good writing?
Extremely good dialogue.
Is it worth laying out 75 bucks for?
Very much so.
Is it well cast? Well played?, Well staged?
Here's where it gets interesting. Chris Rock is the third lead. But he has the star part.
The other actors are all great. But a certain amount of charisma is needed for Rock's part.
An understudy would be quite a comedown, and quite a disappointment.
You need someone who can take over the stage, and he does that.
I have a play which is usually very difficult to cast, because there is a ten o'clock character in it who only has one scene.
And he has to own the stage.
It's hard to find an actor who is that good who is willing to only appear in one scene, unless he is very lazy.
Many times, I successfully pressed myself into service as an actor when I wasn't able to find that one-scene actor.
And I certainly am that lazy.
But Chris Rock's role is far more prominent.
And he more than holds his own.
It was very smart to cast him, and very smart of him to take it on.
I've heard him being interviewed about how his biggest concern about the play is remembering his lines.
Unusual, because he has far less to do here than in one of his concerts, where (don't let him fool you) he is letter perfect.
The staging is fine, but the set design is a bit confusing.
Two of the sets are quite similar, and the first time you go from one to the other, you think it's the same set, but the character redecorated it.
This is even more confusing because there is a small table in the first scene, upon which the hat that belongs to the Motherf**ker sits.
And that table sits there regardless of which set we are in.
Is this artsy-fartsy symbolism? Or just sloppiness?
It doesn't work for me, regardless.
But this is a relatively small quibble.
Is it too long? Too short?
At an hour-forty, it seemed about right.
But you really didn't want it to end so soon, or so abruptly.
Is it believeable? Do you care about the characters?
Totally, and totally.
Is it predictable? Does it surprise you?
It's a little predictable early on, if you work at it, but there are quite a few surprises along the way.
Judging by the movies he's done, it may be the best acting Chris Rock will ever do.
My new book, "Mark Rothman's Essays", ones that were culled from the blog and are no longer there, along with a surprise bonus, is available for purchase.
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- mark rothman
- Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at email@example.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."