Thom Pain (based on nothing) by Will Eno

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Will Eno
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Thom Pain (based on nothing)

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Book review

From the last lonely wilderness, the dark corner of these overlit times, in the camouflage of the common man, Thom Pain takes the stage. With terrible timing and impeccable regret, over-educated in the wrong ways, and wounded in the right ones, he appears. Teeth bared, as he picks a piece of lint off his suit. Listen to the language writhe, as he tries to say hello. Meet Thom Pain. A man who had, by his own reckless reckoning, three or four things happen to him in life. A man who is, by his own admittedly uninformed admission, a man much like a man or woman like you.

When Will Eno’s one-person play Thom Pain opened in New York in February 2005, it became something rare—an unqualified hit, which soon extended through July. Before that, the play was a critical success in London and received the coveted Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival. Dubbed “stand-up existentialism” by the New York Times, it is lyrical and deadpan, both sardonic and sincere. It is Thom Pain—in the camouflage of the common man—fumbling with his heart, squinting into the light.

“Astonishing in its impact. . . . One of the treasured nights in the theatre that can leave you both breathless with exhilaration and, depending on your sensitivity to meditations on the bleak and beautiful mysteries of human experience, in a puddle of tears . . . Thom Pain is at bottom a surreal meditation on the empty promises life makes, the way experience never lives up to the weird and awesome fact of being. But it is also, in its odd, bewitching beauty, an affirmation of life’s worth.”—Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

“Eno has emerged as one of the most original young playwrights on the scene. He is one of the few writers who can convert discomfort and outright agony into such pleasure.”—David Cote, TimeOut New York

“Will Eno is one of the finest younger playwrights I’ve come across in a number of years. His work is inventive, disciplined and, at the same time, wild and evocative.”—Edward Albee

Will Eno lives in Brooklyn, New York. His plays include The Flu Season, Tragedy: a tragedy, King: a problem play, and Intermission. His plays have been produced in London by the Gate Theatre and BBC Radio, and in the United States by Rude Mechanicals and Naked Angels. His play The Flu Season recently won the Oppenheimer Award, presented by NY Newsday for the previous year’s best debut production in New York by an American playwright.

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