Critic’s Notebook

Talk Therapy

It’s hard to imagine anything good being inspired by Bravo’s Inside the Actor’s Studio-that weekly exercise in misguided hero worship that for 14 years has dragged viewers into the minds of such luminaries as Brooke Shields, Ben Affleck, Whoopi Goldberg and Sylvester Stallone. Yet the Dallas-based Writer’s Garret defies the odds with its Writer’s Studio series. Over five seasons, dozens of famous scribes-including The Name of the Rose author Umberto Eco and National Book Award winner Joan Didion-have taken the stage at the city’s Theatre 3 to describe life as working writers.

Closing out the current season on Tuesday, May 19, the Writer’s Studio presents playwright-actor-monologist-novelist-misanthrope Eric Bogosian (pictured), who’s promoting his third novel, Perforated Heart. The book, published May 5, is the fictional diary of a once-prominent novelist grown bitter and self-destructive in the only way a Bogosian hero knows how: full-bore and as wordily as possible.

Eric Bogosian

One could hardly imagine a better fit for the Writer’s Studio’s free-form blend of lecture, encomium and public psychoanalysis. Over his 30-year career, Bogosian has proven himself a heavyweight champion of verbosity, writing and performing in six one-man shows that explore the darker alleys of the American psyche, using words as weapons and shields. His most famous play, 1987’s Talk Radio (which made its Broadway debut in 2007 in a production starring Liev Schreiber), consists of little more than a man with a microphone-the cynical, hypocritical, ultra-verbal shock-jock Barry Champlain-who cauterizes his own wounds by heaping abuse on listeners.

The 1988 movie of Talk Radio, with Bogosian in the lead, was directed by fellow provocateur Oliver Stone, who years later would memorialize Dallas’ darkest hour with JFK. Now the city prepares itself for another angry soul with a microphone and the will to use it. See www.writersgarret.com for details.

Josh Rosenblatt writes about film from New York City.

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