Sunday, August 1, 2010

Off Off Broadway: In God's Hat

This has been a great weekend for us for Off Off Broadway theatre. Yesterday we saw The Shape of Things which I thoroughly enjoyed (see my last post). And today we saw In God's Hat which I enjoyed just as much.

In God's Hat is an intellectually satisfying, powerful and menacing drama involving the interrelated themes of strained familial relations, child abuse, sexual predation, racial supremacy, violence and murder and the philosophical-theological concepts of nihilism, atheism and free will.

In the play, Mitch (Rhett Rossi) has just completed a ten years sentence for child molestation, during which time he has not once been visited or even contacted by his brother Roy (Tom Pelphrey). Why then has Roy just traveled 1500 miles to meet him upon his release from prison with the intention of returning him to a home he has no desire to revisit? And when Arthur Cruter (Dennis Flanagan), the white supremacist skinhead who viciously attacked Mitch in prison before his release, is himself released shortly thereafter, only to appear at the very motel that Mitch and Roy are at, the mystery deepens further and the sense of menace becomes palpable.

Confrontations among Mitch, Roy and Arthur appear inevitable and do, in fact, occur. Violence begets more violence and the squeamish might find some of the theatrics disturbing. But the violence and gore is not gratuitous, is necessary to move the story along, and is tinged with considerable humor, making it all quite worthwhile.

Tom Pelphrey, Rhett Rossi and Dennis Flanagan are all superb in their roles, as is Gary Francis Hope, who plays the part of Early Boyle, another white supremacist skinhead. The play itself, which is being produced by Apothecary Theatre Company and is having its world premiere at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, is very well written and structured by Richard Taylor, reminding me of some of the work of Martin McDonagh. The director, Kevin Kittle, who has worked with Richard Taylor for a decade, can also take considerable pride in this production.

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