As the title states, Thom Pain is based on nothing. It’s an exploratory experience about an ordinary man’s life and his interpretations, that can be hard to simplify but easy to relate to.
Queensland Theatre CompanyBille Brown Studio, West End
Friday 19 March 2010
As the title states, Thom Pain is based on nothing. It’s an exploratory experience about an ordinary man’s life and his interpretations, that can be hard to simplify but easy to relate to. Despite not really knowing what he is on about or where he is coming from, Thom instantly builds a connection with his audience, even before the lights come up. For the first minute or so of the play the audience is treated to an unsettling experience of sitting in pitch black while Thom makes himself known. It’s an odd way to begin, but it grabs your attention. Thom’s stuttering speech, hesitant nature, apologetic manner and insightful observations make him a very interesting character. But really he is just a nice guy who has lived a rather ordinary life, as much as the next person anyway. The play provides a very personal experience, and often reaches close to the point of audience interaction. Thom constantly throws out questions to the audience, but never expects a response. He threatens to pull members from the crowd on stage, but you’re never sure if he means it. This behaviour results in an intriguing form of theatre you don’t often see. Writer Will Eno said in an interview with QTC that he hoped even if audiences didn’t like Thom Pain, they would at least feel “grudging admiration” or even “deep hatred” towards him. These two emotions summed up the audience’s feelings at Friday’s show. Some laughed at the humour, others sniggered because they were uncomfortable, and the rest sighed and rolled their eyes. I would have liked to understand Thom better, and possibly even have left thinking about his concepts and ideals but instead I was only really touched by his character, not his story. Jason Kalwein was a perfect casting for Thom. He delivered his timidity, politeness and intensity unfailingly and struck a cord with his audience, whether it good or bad. He fully grasped how to break the invisible barrier that usually separates actor and viewer, but without spoiling the experience of an alternate reality. Those who decide to see Thom Pain (based on nothing), should expect nothing, because it’s an experience some will gain from and others will feel like 65 minutes of their time was wasted. Bookings: www.qldtheatreco.com.au Until 10 April 2010