By Clark Collis
Updated April 15, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT
Joan Marcus

Drugs, alcohol, and people are all abused in Stephen Adly Guigis’ The Motherf—er With the Hat, a patchy comic drama about addiction. (And there are some who will think the English language also receives a mild battering in a show whose foul-mouthedness is not limited to its title). Bobby Cannavale volcanically impresses as Jackie, a recovering addict and just-out-of-jail parolee who comes to suspect his substance-snorting girlfriend, Veronica (Elizabeth Rodriguez), is cheating on him thanks to the presence of a suspicious hat in their apartment. On the hunt for a gun, Jackie visits his AA sponsor, Ralph D. (stand-up legend Chris Rock), a yoga-loving, health drink-guzzling, poster boy for recovery whose only hurdle to complete serenity would appear to be his less-happily-sober wife, Victoria (Annabella Sciorra). Things quickly go sour for Jackie — not to mention the hat — and he is forced to seek help from his cousin Julio, a funny yet threatening character deftly played by Yul Vézquez.

The play boasts a reasonable number of twists and gags as the central characters rub up against each other, both literally and metaphorically, even if Guigis’ Charlie Sheen-esque attacks on AA culture at times may prompt as much head-scratching as, well, Charlie Sheen does himself these days. In his Broadway debut, Rock acquits himself decently and makes the most of those occasions when his walking Namaste chant of a character veers close to stand-up territory with lines such as, ”I may be an a–hole, but I’m f—in’ limber, bro!” Meanwhile, both Sciorra and Rodriguez breathe life into roles that could have come across as two-dimensional. There is no doubt, however, that it is Cannavale and Vézquez who are responsible for the show’s greatest highs. B

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