Pounding Nails In The Floor With My Forehead is a series of monologues originally presented in 1994 by Eric Brogosian. Twenty three years later, Monkeyshines Productions has decided to put their own spin on the Broadway success, bringing it to the city of Montreal via this year’s Fringe Festival.
The show involves a sequence of monologues painting a bleak and rather patriarchal view of modern society. Set in America in ’94, the piece does not feel overly dated, and most of the issues that arise are still relevant in the world today. Fear, hope, sex, consumerism, good behaviour and white guilt – the production (and its actors) are fearless in their representation of all that is repulsive about the human race as a whole.
In Brogosian’s original version, there are no female characters, which after viewing the production makes a lot of sense. It is clear that this work is coming from a male perspective, if only due to the sheer amount of phallic references made throughout. This is a piece that aims to take the audience out of their comfort zone. Much of the dialogue is disturbing, if not downright disgusting, and overall very graphic in nature. At times, it was hard to resist the urge to look away from the troubling figures spilling their guts onstage.
The characters are belligerent, from one to the next, somewhat failing to represent a vast demographic, and the diversity of the cast certainly left something to be desired. It became difficult to absorb the dialogue that was constantly being hurled at the audience, however passionately. At a certain point, I feel it all just began to wash over me in a wave of pedantic male ego, and perhaps the point was lost on me.
One of the more interesting vignettes, The Glass, features Karl Knox pontificating about the importance of a positive outlook. Through his dialogue, he makes some interesting connections, particularly in relation to the way humans exhibit good behaviour with the belief that we will in some way be rewarded for it by the universe. That it is our duty to be concerned with the world around us, and in doing so and doing our best to contribute in a positive way, we have somehow earned the right to the so-called ‘good life’. It’s an interesting retrospective on the way society limits people’s behaviours and curbs their desires, placating the masses against their strongest animal urges by promising better days ahead.
Overall, the show doesn’t deliver any earth-shattering revelations. It fails to shock in its focus on drugs, sex and the animalistic source of our most basic human urges. This is nothing new. However, the actors are on point for the most part, and it cannot be denied that they inhabit their roles to the fullest extent. Shauna Feldman is a standout in the final vignette appropriately titled Blow Me. She is the only female representation to grace the stage but her performance is no less antagonizing than those of her male counterparts. She delivers a filthy raw performance that closes the show on a cringe-worthy high note.
Pounding Nails In The Floor With My Forehead may not be a for everyone, and its attempt at unveiling the dark counter-culture of North America comes just a few years too late. Nevertheless, the cast delivers an entertaining and impassioned performance that’s certainly worth taking a peek.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Anya Leibovitch
Monkeyshines Productions presents
“Pounding Nails In The Floor With My Forehead”
When: June 2-18, 2017
Where: The Wiggle Room, 3874 Saint-Laurent, H2W 1Y2
Duration: 75 minutes
Box Office: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival