EPOCH's Epic Debut
Hawaii’s newest theater company, EPOCH (Empowering People of Color Hawaii,) made its grand entrance onto the Hawai’I theater scene last Friday with its opening performance of The Motherfucker With the Hat. It is a Tony-award winning play by Stephen Adly Gurgis, billed as a “high-octane verbal cage match about love, fidelity and misplaced haberdashery,” perhaps best known for Chris Rock’s performance on Broadway in 2011.
The protagonist Jackie, played by Jason Quinn, is an ex-con trying to stay on the straight and narrow. He’s in a dysfunctional relationship with Veronica (Danielle Zalopany,) his eighth grade sweetheart. When we first meet her in the opening scene of the play, she’s doing coke while giving her mother relationship advice on the phone. Jackie comes home and finds a mysterious hat, leading believe she’s cheating on him, hence the play’s title. Distraught, Jackie reaches out to AA sponsor Ralph (Quantae Love,) a guy who seems to have all the answers, but he’s got some demons of his own. Really, the characters are all extremely flawed--they lie, fight, cheat, do drugs. You may not even be sure if you’re supposed to like them. But these actors create complex, believable characters that we grow to understand and even love. I think in the end it’s because they all reveal a vulnerable side, a side that just wants someone to love and trust—something we can all relate to. In addition to Quinn flawlessly portraying a wide range of complex emotions, Kava Jones also gave an outstanding performance as Julio, Jackie’s eccentric cousin, who provides both comic relief and voice of reason.
On the surface, The Motherfucker With the Hat may just seem like a play about fucked up people doing fucked up things to each other. But look deeper, and you’ll find a thought-provoking story about relationships, trust, and moral relativism. There is no happy ending, and you may be left feeling cynical, wondering, can we really trust anyone? Is there really such a thing as friendship, especially after adulthood, or are we all just looking out for ourselves. Troy Apostol seems to have a way of directing intense, provocative, emotionally evocative plays that get under your skin and leave a lasting impact.
The Motherfucker With the Hat is sure to get in your face, take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions, and leave you talking about it for days. The show runs for just one more weekend, so get your tickets now. Congratulations to EPOCH on their inaugural performance!