As David and Joe drank together one night after rehearsal
for The New Theatre’s production of PSYCHOPATHIA SEXUALIS,
they discussed their next projects, and found, with nothing
on the boards for either for them, that this was the exact right
time to start “their own group.”
Things came together quickly. David had a contact at The Forum
for Contemporary Art (a small, innovative space in Grand Center
which was shortly to become the larger, and Grander, Contemporary
Art Museum St. Louis.) They realized that an initial project
like Eric Bogosian’s POUNDING NAILS IN THE FLOOR WITH
MY FOREHEAD would be something they could pull off (Joe having
performed two of Bogosians solos previously with David directing
the most recent, SEX DRUGS ROCK & ROLL). And out of the
blue of the night came a “cool” name for the group
– Midnight Productions (later changed to The Midnight
This initial effort became the M.O. for the group – finding
unusual plays and unusual spaces that suited each other.
The Forum welcomed the performances - their second floor gallery,
with an exhibit of new abstract paintings was the perfect setting
for Bogosian’s fractured view of modern male society –
and the show became an auspicious debut for the group.
Enthusiatic audiences and strong reviews were the result. And
David and Joe were happy to reflect fondly on the show, but
they had just a short time to do that. For they were going to
get a chance to pound nails with their foreheads once more.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch review
Reviewed by Judy Newmark
Vulgar, angry and outrageously funny, Eric Bogosian’s
“Pounding Nails In The Floor With My Forehead” is
essentially a series of character studies, concentrating on
men who range from the seriously troubled to the positively
Originally, Bogosian played them all. Now Joe Hanrahan, starring
the short one-man show, demonstrates that you don’t have
to be their author to bring these characters to aggressive life.
He opening sequence, “Molecules,” gets the evening
off to a loathsome, but powerful, start: A bum in the subway
is talking in amazing detail about his bodily excretions. “Molecules”
is one of the very few scripts capable of triggering the gag
reflex all by itself. In opening with it, the author no doubt
intends to slap the audience into an awareness of his phenomenally
anti-bourgeois sensibility, and he certainly succeeds. Luckily,
after that the aesthetic climbs out of the gutter, although
the language remains coarse throughout, with a lot of vivid
talk about sex, drugs and violence. The show is not for the
Hanrahan, whose slurred speech and bent gait suit the bum very
well, cleans up nicely for the characters to come, among them
a guilt-ridden suburbanite, a doctor prescribing he 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.
With its deep-seated anger, and the author’s anguished
swings between the longing for numbness and the desire to feel
something, monotony is never a problem in this show.
Riverfront Times review
Reviewed by Bob Wilcox
Eric Bogosian reports from the front lines of the wars being
waged all around us. His characters vent their anger and frustration
at society for its corruptions an cruelties and at themselves
because they haven’t been corrupt and cruel enough to
succeed in our society.
Most of the guys who appear in the eight brief monologues that
make up the hour-long “Pounding Nails In The Floor With
My Forehead” we have met before, from the naïve 12-stepper
to the convolutedly self-aware artist. Bogosian pushes them
a little further, then adds his own twist. What the Alcoholics
Anonymous type confesses is that he is a man, guilty of not
having an addiction but of having a penis, driven by his gender
to do awful things – “sometimes I feel like a human
being trapped in a man’s body.” A subway bum spins
an ingenious theory that makes the molecules of his excrement
the source of the spreading disease of fear in our culture.
Sometimes, though, as in a doctor’s description of the
side effects of the medicine he’s prescribing, the satire
barely moves beyond the familiar and predictable. And sometimes,
as in the final piece, “Blow Me,” Bogosian fails
to lift his character’s obsession with obscenity to the
level of poetry he’s straining for. But always he packs
his writing full of smart, nervous energy.
Nails” is the third Bogosian solo piece Joe Hanrahan has
performed. I think it’s Hanrahan’s best. He usually
has a characteristic quality, rhythm and inflection –
or lack of inflection – in his voice that has in the past
limited him in expressing the full range of Bogosian’s
characters. I rarely heard that Hanrahan voice in this show.
Probably David Wassilak’s direction has helped Hanrahan
give the pieces such satisfying shapes. Though we see only the
one character that Hanrahan is playing, the person he’s
talking to is also crystal clear. Sometimes we in the audience
are that person, and the performance space in the third-floor
gallery at the Forum For Contemporary Art makes it an intimate
conversation. “Pounding Nails” keeps you awake and
alert and a little more alive than usual.
Intermission Magazine review
Reviewed by Sarah Bellum
I relish the psychological and symbolic imagery that manifests
in my mind each time I hear the title to Eric Bogosian’s
play, “Pounding Nails In The Floor With My Forehead.”
Although it possesses the same painfully cathartic aura as a
Jim Rose Circus Sideshow act, “Pounding Nails” is
more capable of transporting its audience to a complex level
of the human psyche.
When I hear that an actor or group of actors might be daring
enough to approach a Bogosian script, I jump a the chance to
witness its reenactment. Midnight Productions premiere of “Pounding
Nails” was held at the Forum For Contemporary Art in November
last year. I missed it and kicked myself for weeks afterwards.
Luckily, I ran across the same black and white graphic of Joe
Hanrahan with a pseudo puncture wound in his head a the opening
of IN/FORM. I refused to let this opportunity pass me by again.
David Wassilak and Hanrahan successfully managed to stay true
to the Bogosian style: One actor exhaustingly portrays a series
of diverse characters. (I once saw “Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘N’Roll”
assembled with a cast of 10 actors. I found it to be not near
I was privileged to have held a rather lengthy conversation
with Vernon Gross, artist and board member of IN/FROM, after
Hanrahan’s performance. Gross revealed that he happened
to be in Hanrahan’s presence before the show began. Ross
actually witnessed a disturbing out-of-body transition as Hanrahan
metamorphosed into the play’s first character, an intrusive,
barbaric and bitter street bum.
As Hanrahan limped onto the stage armed with a maniacal grin
and a dark trench coat, one would never expect the plethora
of distinctly different personas waiting in the wings for their
debut. It appeared that Hanrahan was method acting at light
Using minimal props: a spatula to distinguish the beer-loving
suburbanite, A-1 barbecue chef and sports “Fan.”
The audience was consistently confronted with a strong dose
of Americana by way of Hanrahan’s “in your face”
approach. He satirized our everyday existence with a kaleidoscopic
spectrum of people we love to hate. This performance exemplifies
such a strong sense of reality, it is hard to know whether to
laugh or cry. Anyone with half a heart and a minimal amount
of vitality could easily experience both.
Eric Bogosian's Pounding Nails in the Floor with
Reviewed by Mark Glass
Eric Bogosian has certainly made a name for himself as one funny,
angry dude. He's won Obie and Drama Desk awards for his work,
and critical acclaim for his film, Talk Radio. No surprise that
his newest one-man theatrical piece is another serving of the
same. Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead is a collection
of eight pieces, with a common theme. Each is uttered by a guy
who isn't very happy, and expresses his rage with an acerbic,
Joe Hanrahan performs this demanding sequence of monologues
for Midnight Productions with remarkable range and energy. For
about an hour, he flashes from one persona to the next, using
minimal props and costumes. The transitions are so swift that
the audience may not always be sure when he's done with a routine.
But his voice and body language convincingly distinguish each
guy from the others. None of the characters relate specifically
to each other, but the thread of frustration, breeding the threat
of violence, runs in all of them, as it does in all of us. These
men aren't stupid - they're just variably-scarred veterans of
contemporary American society.
Hanrahan enters as a New York subway bum, gleefully (if grossly)
telling us how we may find him disgusting, but his molecules
will get us in the end, no matter how far removed we think we
are. One of the later characters - a blue-collar escapee to
the suburbs - becomes a prime example.
The second piece starts innocently, as he thanks the audience
for coming, but seething resentment of our relative positions
turns hilariously bitter. Same a bit later for a wannabe actor
meeting the night's star after a show - first fawning, then
Perhaps the funniest segment is a motivational-seminar speaker,
urging us to get in touch with our inner baby - a level far
more self-indulgent and insensitive than the hackneyed "inner
child"of pop-psych renown. He mocks the self-help industry
more effectively than the late Chris Farley did in his Saturday
Night Live skits, as the polyester-clad loser living in a van
by the river.
Bogosian's script covers everything we are ticked off about
- politics, the economy, cultural values and, of course, sex
and the gender wars. The "Recovering Male" soliloquy
lays waste to the guilt-trip imposed on post-feminist males.
Most of the satire is dead-on, and Hanrahan delivers it as pungently
as Bogosian, himself. He conveys the rage without losing a speck
of the humor. As you'd expect, since Hanrahan's previously performed
Bogosian's Drinking in America and Sex, Drugs, Rock 'N Roll.
The barebones industrial setting also features the works of
several artists, so you can pick your seat, then peruse the
collection before or after the show.
You'll certainly be entertained by Hanrahan's performance, and
may even find a painting or sculpture while you're at it.
Revised: October, 2007
© The Midnight Company