In God's Hat at Profiles Theatre: Theater review

There's little meat and lots of blood in Profiles Theatre's grisly crime thriller.

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  • Photograph: Michael Brosilow

    Darrell W. Cox and Larry Neumann Jr. in In God's Hat at Profiles Theatre

  • Photograph: Michael Brosilow

    Darrell W. Cox, Larry Neumann Jr. and Bruce Cronander in In God's Hat at Profiles Theatre

  • Photograph: Michael Brosilow

    Darrell W. Cox and Larry Neumann Jr. in In God's Hat at Profiles Theatre

  • Photograph: Michael Brosilow

    Larry Neumann Jr., Darrell W. Cox and Bruce Cronander in In God's Hat at Profiles Theatre

Photograph: Michael Brosilow

Darrell W. Cox and Larry Neumann Jr. in In God's Hat at Profiles Theatre

The most unsavory ingredient in Rhett Rossi's 2010 pulp thriller has little do to with its pedophiles, addicts or skinheads (two of those, mind you, are the heroes). Rather, it's the snide presumption that it's holding something more meaningful up its sleeve. Don't be fooled—complicated brotherly love and overwrought riddles aside, there's nothing hidden up there except more tattoos.


That acknowledged, I couldn't help but admire the way Joe Jahraus's Midwest premiere flaunts them. Underscored by a chicken-wire enclosed Western band, Jahraus and company get down and dirty in the vein of Tracy Letts or Joshua Rollins. After a decade behind bars, a child molester (Larry Neumann Jr.) gets an unexpected ride from his estranged brother (Darrell W. Cox) on the day of his release. Holed up in a dank motel room designed by Shaun Renfro, the two hash out their sordid history until they're tracked down by an uninvited but familiar guest (John Victor Allen, menacing and manipulative in the style of an Aryan Brother version of Nicolas from Pinter's One for the Road).


From there, it's one exasperated gasp. In some stretches, too exasperated—there's only so much time an audience can spend with an excrement-covered corpse onstage without needing a breath of fresh air. Once things start moving, though, it's one big, calculated grin. Rossi dots his plot with enough adrenaline-charged twists to back up the story's murkiness and rope in his viewers as accomplices. Likewise, for all their characters' flaws, Cox and Neumann milk what little humanity there's to be had in each of them, even if it's only black comedy or sheer pity. The rest is a shot of hard whiskey: dizzying, overwhelming, and absolutely satisfying.


 


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