Eric Bogosian's rant hits with all the subtlety of an ice pick to the brain stem. For more than an hour, he's alone on stage, dressed in black, chewing razor blades and spitting the shards into the audience, assuming identities you'd cross the street to avoid. The actor/playwright's one-man shows take the car-wreck approach to social commentary; you may want to cover your eyes, but he has you peeking through your fingers by the end.
The goal is to "burn a few calories and keep the audience riveted." You can catch Bogosian working on his waistline Saturday, February 27, at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, where he'll be trying out new material for the upcoming solo Confessions of a Dirty Talker.
In the decade since he and Oliver Stone teamed up for the film adaptation of his play Talk Radio, Bogosian has continued to write on the edge while making some puzzling film and television appearances (the heavy in the Steven Seagal vehicle Under Siege 2: Dark Territory foremost among them). But Hollywood's celluloid landscape isn't his preferred environment. "There's a lot of sameness to film acting," he says. "Most of your time is spent waiting to perform, sitting around a set drinking coffee with other actors talking about your agents." Much more challenging is the "rock 'n' roll life" of proving it to a live audience every night.
During his solos he doesn't so much embody the characters as disgorge them in a process that he admits began as purgative. "I had a lot of people inside me and was looking for a way to let them out, to let them speak." Bogosian credits Spalding Gray, who brought his staid behind-the-desk presentation to the Valley earlier this month, as an influence. In addition to the obvious contrast to Gray's delivery, Bogosian's material also ruffles a few more feathers. "Not that many people walk out of Spalding's shows. It happens to me all the time."
Eric Bogosian knows his work isn't for everyone--it appeals to "a select tribe that is ambitious and aggressive, yet still see themselves as empathetic at the same time." There's a tribal gathering in Scottsdale this Saturday. Bang the drum forcefully.