Chicago Theater Review: THOM PAIN (BASED ON NOTHING) (Theater Wit)

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by Paul Kubicki on July 16, 2013

in Theater-Chicago


Though little happens and nothing is resolved in the Pulitzer-nominated Thom Pain (based on nothing), the play is oddly and intensely captivating. Will Eno’s extended monologue wades into an ethereal spot where conscience and consciousness collide, Paul Kubicki's Stage and Cinema review of "Thom Pain (based on nothing)" Theater Wit, Chicago.using his everyman Thom Pain as a lens to reveal the gaps and fragmentation therein.

Pain is an elegy for all that gets lost or broken when our inner lives are juxtaposed with our modern world, delivered with a rich sense of irony and self-consciousness which makes it resound for a culture that is shallowly obsessed with self. It would have been easy to play Thom Pain as simply a caustic wit, but Lance Baker takes a nuanced, more vulnerable route, ensuring a well-rounded and fulfilling experience for the spectator. He portrays Pain with a sort of manic apprehension, as if he is consumed with and actively resisting his own emptiness. Pain’s acerbic sense of humor is then grounded in escapism, which makes it all the more biting, as we know he is attacking himself more than any of us.

Paul Kubicki's Stage and Cinema review of "Thom Pain (based on nothing)" Theater Wit, Chicago.Director Jeremy Wechsler allows Baker’s performance and Eno’s script to speak on their own behalf, endowing the production with just the right naturalism to pull off the many metatheatrical elements in the play. The set is appropriately sparse and dark, reflecting the very emptiness Pain tries in vain to escape. Early in the play, Thom Pain smiles and tells us we’ll think of him when we have thirty seconds left to live. It seems laughable, but he’s right. Thom Pain is the dissenting conscience that exists somewhere within each of us, and Eno has captured the voice from the void that none of us can – nor should we want to – escape.

photos by Johnny Knight

Thom Pain (based on nothing)
Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont
scheduled to end on July 27, 2013
for tickets, call (773-975-8150) or visit Theater Wit

ffor more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

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