Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

03/06/2014 - 14/06/2014

Production Details

Vibracorp Productions is delighted to present The Motherf***er with the Hat at The Basement from 3 June. 

A high-octane performance examining complex themes of morality and happiness, The Motherf***er with the Hat follows recovering addict and drug dealer Jackie as he leads us on a poetically profane quest for self-transformation and misplaced haberdashery in the raw and gritty setting of New York City. 

Jackie has recently been released from prison and returns home from work one day to discover a hat in the apartment he shares with his girlfriend – recreational drug user Veronica. Realising it’s not his, Jackie accuses her of cheating, and seeks counsel from his AA sponsor Ralph. What happens next will challenge conventional ideas of integrity, addiction, love and friendship.

First performed at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York in 2011 with Chris Rock and Bobby Cannavale, The Motherf***er with the Hat was nominated for six Tony awards, and has gained international recognition for its cutting edge subject matter and no-holds-barred treatment of drug dependence and honesty. 

Described by the Wall Street Journal as “a tough-minded, unromantically romantic comedy that keeps you laughing then sends you home thinking,”* this avant-garde black comedy has an intellectual backbone. Its first New Zealand performance, directed by up-and-comer Edwin Wright, is unmissable. 

Edwin Wright says: “This play demands a lot from its actors, and resonates most deeply when our cultural differences are used to reveal what is innate in all of us, regardless of heritage; our fragility, our need and our potential for redemption. Attempting to capture the ethnic diversity of inner-city New York has been the biggest challenge of the casting process.” 

Acclaimed actors Fasitua Amosa and Calum Gittins lead a cast of talent including rising star Saraid Cameron, who is captivating as the fiery Latina Veronica.

The cast members are learning about addiction through following guidelines from the well-known 12 Step Fellowship recovery programme and talking to others that have followed the programme. 

The Basement will be entirely transformed into a New York street scene for the performance, including an installation by a street artist. Two Hands Tattoo’s Stefan Sinclair will be designing the character’s tattoos and Hannah Lee Turner, stylist to Ruby Frost, will oversee a captivating wardrobe including pieces from Lonely Hearts. 

Actor Fasitua Amosa has charmed New Zealand audiences with performances in Auckland Daze, Niu Sila, Agent Anna, Go Girls, Shortland St and the Insider’s Guide to Happiness. He is joined on stage by Calum Gittins, who has featured in Shortland St, The King’s Speech, Lord of the Rings, and the recent successful Basement Theatre performance Eigengrau

John Tui returns to theatre after 12 years in film and television including Battleship with Rihanna and Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood), and Sione’s Wedding. His performance as Jackie’s camp cousin Julio is a role unlike anything he has performed before. 

Saraid Cameron is a recent drama school graduate who was discovered in The Basement’s Young and Hungry Festival in 2013. 

Rounding out the cast is Andi Crown, an established theatre actress whose recent performances include Auckland Theatre Company’s production of August Osage County and Abigail’s Party

Contrasting the complex and authentic script, The Motherf***er with the Hat is rife with profanity, using the word f*** 275 times throughout the performance.

The play’s author claimed that the title is his disclaimer to warn sensitive sorts of its profane content.** 

The Motherf***er with the Hat 
Tuesday 3 June – Saturday 14 June, 2014 
The Basement, Auckland 
8pm, matinee 4pm Sat 14 June.
Tickets are $25 on sale via 
Earlybird $20 before 25 May

Recommended for audiences 16 years and older. Contains offensive language, drug use and sexual references. 

Jackie - Calum Gittins
Ralph - Fasitua Amosa
Veronica - Saraid Cameron
Victoria - Andi Crown
Julio - John Tui 

The curse of lower-class New York

Review by Janet McAllister 05th Jun 2014

This highly entertaining, funny dramedy more than lives up to its actual title which is deemed too rude to print in full: this “mofo” show delivers fruity words with relish. And it points out that one woman’s verbal obscenities are another’s terms of endearment: “I’ll kick a three-legged kitten down a flight of f***in’ stairs rather than say some shit like ‘I love you’,” says one character.

The man with the hat might be cuckolding the lead character, Jackie, who’s just out of prison. But Jackie’s Puerto Rican girlfriend Veronica denies it: “You got an imagination like Dr f***ing Seuss or something! [More]


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Exciting battles amid fragility and subtlety

Review by Andy Manning 05th Jun 2014

The title is a disclaimer, according to the program. 

As we are seated in traverse, the faces of my “fellow mother f’s” – as we’ve been dubbed by the front of house team – are hard to read. Hat ran on Broadway for three months and picked up six Tony Award nominations and several Drama Desks. My skepticism, as always, comes around the success of lifting a New York production, set in New York, and plonking it in Auckland and allowing the audience a free pass into a Time Square S.R.O. Perhaps the other Hat-goers felt the same. Our fears, however, are in vain.

The conviction of all of the cast, is astonishing, the Basement’s sparse concrete floor adding to the complete displacement of the audience to New York’s ‘ghetto’ where The Mother Fucker With The Hat’s action plays out. The simple set, designed by Laura Smith complements this well. 

Calum Gittins leads us through his red-blooded life as a former drug dealer, ex-con, recovering addict and self-professed a-hole, Jackie. Gittins pulls us along the narrative with his astounding explosive energy and pent up testosterone. His girlfriend, coke-fiend Veronica, is played by Saraid Cameron. She opens the play with a heated, full-blown, coke-fuelled phone conversation with her mother, before Jackie interrupts. Cameron invests the character with heart and warmth, despite Veronica’s inherent stubbornness and terrible judgment.

The play hinges around Jackie’s relationship with his A.A. sponsor, the maddeningly sober and platitude-spitting Ralph D, brought to us by Fasitua Amosa. Amosa is just as abrasive in his stoicism as Gittins is in his mania. The characters are well written foils, and well set against each other here.

Andi Crown and John Tui support these three strongly as Victoria and Cousin Julio respectively. Tui almost steals the show at times with his often camp and larger-than-life but never gauche characterisation, providing relief from the relentless conflict that seems to follow Jackie around.

The show, however, is not about shock value. Whilst there are no holds barred in the high-octane detailing of just a few days of Jackie’s manic life, writer Stephen Adly Guirgis does not go out of his way to be offensive, and with Edwin Wright’s direction, even the 258 drops of the ‘F bomb’ don’t come out as crude. Wright works well with the cast of five to guide them with style through the lengthy scenes that bring light to the rather bleak life of Jackie.

The traverse seating allows me a taste of what the full-house opening night audience is experiencing. The most obvious thing is this audience needs no title censorship. Plenty of jaws are dropped and gasps are inhaled but never at the ‘F bomb’. The production seems to exist in fragility and subtlety despite the bombastic title. The attention to detail in the head-to-head arguments that dominate the action makes for some exciting battles, with climaxes throughout that keep us active and interested.

Wright, in the programme notes, states, “We all f___ up, we all make a mess… sometimes it’s easy…sometimes we lose things forever.” The show seems to entertain the notion of trying to regain something you have lost: your sobriety, your passion, your respect. This give the cast a focus and direction, and we don’t get hung up on the absurdness of Jackie’s life.  

Hat runs at Basement until June 14. Not for the faint hearted, but if you can make it through the title, you’re halfway there.


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