IT might have a sweary title and there are plenty of expletives in the play but don’t let that put you off The Motherf**ker With The Hat.
Stephen Adly Guirgis’s viscously dark and hilarious comedy, now given an in-your-face airing at the National Theatre is fabulous.
Set in New York, it contains five flawed characters, all of whom are recovering from something, whether it be sex, drink or drugs or a combination thereof.
The story is essentially what happens when their lives intermingle.
Jackie is fresh out of jail, determined to kick the drink and the drug dealing for good and make a fresh start with girlfriend, cocaine addict Veronica.
Unfortunately when he finds a hat in her apartment he fears she has been sharing her bed with someone else while he’s been banged up. And it’s soon clear that anger management issues are another aspect of Jackie’s personality that he struggles with.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Big Apple, Jackie’s AA sponsor and counsellor Ralph is having problems of his own - not least with his live in girlfriend Victoria.
And as the play moves on it becomes clear why – he’s a bit of a weasel. In fact he treats sleeping with other women as a perk of the job - something that Victoria understandably doesn't take too kindly to.
The only vaguely nice one in the group is Jackie’s cousin Julio who, whilst recovering from his own demons, imparts wisdom and home truths in a camp but calm and deadpan manner.
It is all highly entertaining with plenty of twists and turns throughout the story to keep the audience guessing as to not only what will happen in the end but who is really betraying who and will they be able to stay clean.
The five actors are superb – Flor De Liz Perez is a real firecracker as Veronica, kicking ass when Jackie accuses her of infidelity. Ricardo Chavira as Jackie turns swearing into an art form as he rages like a bull at times – you can almost see the smoke billowing from his nostrils as he stamps his feet.
Yul Vazquez is brilliant as Julio, Alec Newman is perfectly slimey as the creepy Ralph and Nathalie Armin as Victoria cannot disguise her contempt for Ralph and cuts him dead with her glorious put downs.
The set is a triumph and the whole thing romps along with such speed and ferocity that it’s like being inside a hurricane but one that had my ribs aching at the end from laughing so much.
The Motherf**er With The Hat is on at the Lyttelton, National Theatre, until August 20. Tickets from £15. Visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 020 7452 3000.