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The Motherfucker With the Hat

Reviewed by Matthew Irwin, Fri., Aug. 23, 2013

12-steppin' all over you: Aaron Alexander, Jude Hickey, and Ben Wolfe
12-steppin' all over you: Aaron Alexander, Jude Hickey, and Ben Wolfe

The Motherfucker With the Hat

Hyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd, 512/479-7529
www.capitalt.org
Through Aug. 31
Running time: 2 hr.

I've known people like Ralph D in The Motherfucker With the Hat, currently being produced by Capital T Theatre. Mostly young people and Objectivists, but ex-addicts are capable of that same solipsistic benevolence – a sort of self-sustaining, self-centered sense of survival that they pass off as morality. Ralph is also an opportunist and a manipulator, who happens to be conveniently exonerated from the consequences of his actions by his philosophy. Maybe others don't always fall for his logic, but he comes off as unaffected, and that is infuriating.

Ralph's unbearable lightness is enough to make one question his own ways. It makes Jackie (Ben Wolfe) question himself, but he's particularly susceptible – an ex-addict ex-con hoping to patch things up with his lady (Indigo Rael), who waited for him to get out. And maybe we, the audience, weren't all that surprised to find out that the "motherfucker with the hat," the guy who had been sleeping with Jackie's Veronica, was Ralph (it's always the friend), but we sure let out a few unsuppressed gasps when Ralph (Aaron Alexander) walked out buck-naked, penis dangling like a deflated exclamation point to Veronica's declaration that they stop fooling around.

The nudity is not gratuitous. Modesty has a way of dissolving in the midst of conflict. Until, of course, one then realizes, "Oh shit, I can't be naked for this," which Ralph seems to register. But then, Ralph isn't modest. He's a talker. And all his talk leads back to the same place: "Look at me." He holds himself up as the example to live by, explaining in detail that others' lives are depraved and meaningless, as a means of supporting his point of view. "Look at me," he says. He used to be in the dirt, too, but now he's clean and healthy, so his logic must be, too. No, Ralph is not healthy. His wife, Victoria (Antoinette Robinson), hates him, in part because he cheats on her regularly, but more because he's a promise unfulfilled. His logic is a wall around his own depravity that makes others feel small.

Ex-cons and ex-addicts have failed so hard that their lives are no longer their own. They have curfews and parole officers; they have meetings and sponsors. The rest of the world doesn't change a bit. This is Jackie. He's trying to get his life together, and the man he's counting on to show him the way – his sponsor and best friend – is a self-serving 12-step addict who throws Jackie's failures in his face to justify his own behavior. Ralph says he's just a man, trying to stay clean and live his life one day at a time. But he hasn't learned the most basic lesson of being an addict: Selfish actions have negative consequences.

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