Sunday, December 16, 2007

Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead

Sean Derry gives tour-de-force acting performance at BANG AND CLATTER

As Sean Derry was literally pounding his head on the floor at the conclusion of ‘POUNDING NAILS IN THE FLOOR WITH MY FOREHEAD,’ now in production at The Bang and Clatter Theatre, I totally empathized.

For two acts I, and members of the audience, had been subjected to and immersed in a series of attacks and tirades using language that was vulgar, angry and outrageous. Almost all things political, social, moral and ethical had come under attack. Almost every foul word and image had been used to assault our senses.

Throughout I could not help but wonder what it felt like for Derry to go through a nervous breakdown nightly. Not only did he have hundreds and hundreds of words to memorize and spit out each night, but the emotional level of the one-person show allows for little time to relax. Almost every line is explosive, there is no calm within the storm.

Eric Bogosian’s ‘POUNDING NAILS IN THE FLOOR WITH MY FOREHEAD’ is a series of character studies, concentrating on men who range from the seriously troubled to those positively repugnant. The monologues were originally portrayed by Bogosian, himself. Since then, a number of actors have taken up the role. I doubt if any one them did a better job than Derry, Bang and Clatter’s co-artistic and managing director.

Bogosian is the writer of ‘TALK RADIO,’ a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He also authored ‘subUrbia,’ ‘GRILLER’ and ‘SEX, DRUGS, ROCK & ROLL.’

The opening segment, “Molecules,” finds a bum in a subway talking in detail about the molecules that infect others from his bodily excretions. It verbally slaps the audience into an awareness of Bogosian’s hateful reaction to the ills of this nation.

Other characters include a guilt-ridden suburbanite, a doctor prescribing the worst medicine in the world, and a “recovering male” who confesses his shame to fashion models in magazines because of the fantasies he harbors about them.

As a reviewer of a previous production stated, “Bogosian has deep-seated anger, and the author’s anguish swings between the longing for numbness and the desire to feel something. Monotony is never a problem in this show.”

Capsule judgment: The show is not for gentlefolk, definitely not for redstaters. It is, however, for anyone who wants to see an amazing performance, probably one of the best performances on local stages this year, and have their mental and physical senses assaulted.