A man mistakes his wife for his hat, at the MoxieEntertainment Feature, Online Only, Section 4A, Top Highlights Saturday, April 21st, 2012
BY ANDREW PRINTER
A one act play that is simply ‘awesome’
A Man, his Wife, and his Hat is an imaginative and thoroughly entertaining 90 minute, one act play up and running at the Moxie Theatre until April 29. The play, written by local MFA candidate Lauren Yee weaves a simple message about love into a surreal (parallel) universe complete with talking walls, levitation, nonsense dialogue and some great performances.
My first impression of a theatrical production is the set, well, those that are visible to the audience as people find their seats and anticipation builds. This set, tilted up toward the audience had a warm and inviting feel to it and it was something to savor and wonder about. Smack bang in its center was a disheveled recliner upholstered with what looked like chopped up bits of silk and suit jackets, this surrounded by a cluster of random debris. To the right of the chair a wall was decorated with faded stencil prints; to the left a trap door fit into the floorboards.
I felt that some kind of magic would happen once the house lights dimmed and for the most part it did. A Man, his Wife, and his Hat is about Hetchman, a man who loves his hat. Oh, and his wife, too. But when both go missing, the retired hatmaker vows to stop at nothing to find them, if he can ever muster the strength to leave the comfort of his armchair, where Cheetos and peanuts are stashed. Hetchman is helped and hindered in his endeavor by a sassy and self-confident talking wall, a golem and his friend Meckel (Fred Harlow). Meanwhile, in a parallel world not so far away a young couple on the brink of marriage is getting snared in their own love-relationship dilemma.
Yee is a twenty-something playwright whose work debuted in San Diego as part of The Playwright’s Project’s Plays By Young Writers Series back when she was a teenager. She is a rising talent in the theater world and destined for New York. The inspiration for A Man, his Wife, and his Hat began at a writers retreat in Israel that Yee attended where a set of diverse characters gathered and where she pondered the notion of foreignness. The result is a play that marries an absurd world with one of the central themes of being human – love.
Love is nothing new to us gays; nor is an LTR (long term relationship for those of you not into abbreviations). Now that we can marry and divorce Hat’s investigation into the labyrinths of domesticity, affection and (not) taking your partner for granted has more resonance. The largely straight and older audience at the opening night performance frequently chuckled at Hetchman and Hetchman’s wife (a wonderful and wonderfully costumed Mark Petrich and Robin Christ) as they bickered and fought, but so did my LTR and me. Our eyes rolled with familiarity as one “love-relationship” truth after another fell from the central character’s mouths. The strangeness of the Hetchman’s and Meckel’s peculiar vernacular was something delightful!
I thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of A Man, his Wife, and his Hat. My attention never waned as I looked left and right to see/hear what the chatty wall had to say. The contemporary, parallel universe that involved the engaged couple paled a little in comparison to the broad, fairy-tale klezmer-inspired love triangle between Hetchman, his wife and his hat. And, overall the tale strayed just a bit into convoluted territory before its surprising but slightly sentimental ending, but the one act structure was suitable.
If you are looking for a night at the theater that entertains and makes you leave thinking I encourage you to check this one out. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the wise old wall. In her opinion it’s “awesome, awesome, awesome.”
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