Thom Pain (based on nothing)

Thom Pain Based On Nothing Adelaide Fringe 2016Joanne Hartstone. The Cellar, GC. 17 Feb 16


Who is this man? If Thom Pain is at a loss to know, who are we to help?


He speaks a fractured stream of consciousness. There is narrative in there somewhere. Isn't there? There's the boy who was attacked by bees but thought they were trying to help him, to take away a pain that was already there. There was a dog. A horse walked into a bar.


And thus flow the existential contemplations. There's the woman he wooed with his one-card magic trick. Should he draw the raffle?


In his way of thinking, there is a pattern. He pauses to reflect on it. Yes, he has mentioned the boy and the bees. He needs a volunteer from the audience. Maybe not. He blows his nose on a handkerchief and then uses it as a prop to talk about brains. His thoughts skitter.  Absurdist non sequiturs meander forth.


He seems an innocuous man and yet there is something threatening about him. He defies the fourth wall. He is unpredictable. He is confronting. His mind is made up and unmade in a trice. He is sincere. No, he is teasing.

His ramblings are peppered with wonderful one-liners. Listen carefully, or you'll miss them. They're funny.


He says he is a clever man - and he is. 


It is a clever script and, when the show is over with its beautifully tailored ending, one recognises why this Will Eno creation was distinguished as a Pulitzer nominee. It is imaginative, alternative, rich in striking imagery, ideas and surprises. And yet, it is the sad tale of a small man.


New York actor David Calvitto has brought this character with this dense and complex script to Adelaide.

He plays it as if he is just a bit uncertain, as if it is just a bit improvisational. He seems devastated when a man abruptly storms out of the theatre and suggests that perhaps the whole audience would be better off following him. Did that man really leave or was he a shill? 


Anyone who does not see this show through to the end is cheating themselves of a magnificent theatrical experience. It's not quite like anything one has ever seen or could ever forget. Bravo.



Samela Harris


When: 17 Feb to 6 Mar

Where: The Cellar, GC