BWW Reviews: THOM PAIN (BASED ON NOTHING), The Print Room, September 21 2012
There's a kind of person whose Facebook status updates speak of a mind that knows that things should be better for them. Knowing theirs is a lost cause, they implore anyone reading not to be trapped like them. Such a man is Thom Pain, who speaks to us, at us and (occasionally) amongst us at The Print Room (until 13 October).
As our eponymous hero, John Light's digressions, stories and interjections of laughter and tears into his accounts of an up and down (mainly down) life suggest something of a po-mo Ronnie Corbett - especially when affecting the spectacles. Writer Will Eno is more likely to have been influenced by fellow New Yorker Woody Allen than the diminutive Englishman, but it was a parallel that I couldn't shake throughout the hour long monologue.
Unlike Corbett or Allen, Thom Pain is a discomforting presence, a nervous and unpredictable character who challenges the audience's passivity not just in words but in actions. We're never quite sure how to respond, whether a line is an ad lib or part of the show, whether theatre is still theatre with its fourth wall shattered. And that, of course, is the point.
Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) is a dark comedy, a postmodern analysis of theatrical convention and an awkward hour spent with an awkward man. It won't be for everyone, but those who get it will feel its ripples through many more evenings in the stalls.