Closed 0h 50m
Thom Pain (based on nothing)
Midtown W
74

Thom Pain (based on nothing) NYC Reviews and Tickets

74%
(204 Reviews)
Positive
69%
Mixed
26%
Negative
5%
Members say
Great acting, Quirky, Clever, Absorbing, Disappointing

About the Show

Drama Desk Award-winner Will Eno returns to Signature for a new staging of his surreal and very real one-man show, starring Michael C. Hall ("Dexter," "Six Feet Under," "The Realistic Joneses.")

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Member Reviews (204)

80
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Clever, Great acting, Edgy

See it if you like existential plays; TP's mostly abt love, couples, connectns, childhood trauma, thought processes, death. Hall mesmerizes. Engaging.

Don't see it if you dislike solo shows/brief audience interactions. TP is in-your-face, but it's funny and smart. A reminder to carpe diem. Barebones set.

78
Great acting, Interesting, Different, Engaging, Slow

See it if you like slightly surreal theatrical experiences. Surprising, twisting and somewhat poetic. Hall is masterful.

Don't see it if you prefer more conventional linear plots. Sometimes stream of consciousness. Read more

Critic Reviews (25)

November 11th, 2018

"Oliver Butler’s new production lets some fresh air and even a sliver of sunlight into the nocturnal depths of its title (and only) character’s imagination...But while I’m usually grateful for glints of optimism in these cynical times, I can’t honestly say that this transformation is for the good...Mr. Hall is best in relaxed moments of semi-improvised interaction with the audience. But this Thom is seldom lovably loathsome enough to make us squirm."
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November 11th, 2018

"Eno’s text is a wonderfully light thing—a butterfly’s erratic passage through a man’s mind as he tries to narrate both his past and the constant, irritating demands of the theatrical present...'Thom Pain' has to fight a little too hard to be heard, where director Oliver Butler has given it a very handsome and polished revival. Michael C. Hall performs Eno’s script with immense charm (if not danger), but it’s a piece that requires the intimacy of a mind moving very close to yours."
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November 11th, 2018

"Canon or not, faced with Eno’s play now, I found myself recoiling from its aggressive flippancy. There’s something brittle and deceptive about 'Thom Pain’s' systemic self-deprecation...The pleasure of the production is watching Hall in moments of simple, full presence...The problem is that what 'Thom Pain' wants to be and what the play is are two different things."
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November 11th, 2018

"The 70-minute monologue never really coheres into a discernible storyline, which will certainly prove frustrating for those looking for a linear narrative. But the play's deliciously clever wordplay and theatrical inventiveness provide myriad rewards for the more open-minded. Signature’s current revival particularly highlights the work's strengths, thanks to the actor's formidable charisma and charm.”
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November 12th, 2018

"Sitting in the literal dark with the unpredictable narrator of Eno’s intellectually dizzying drama is still a dangerous thrill...Hall’s deadly deadpan is deeply funny, in an unnerving way...Hall tries his level best to be true to this self-absorbed character; but he just can’t help himself. He’s a fine actor, but a personable one, much too likable to pull off the character’s blinding, self-regarding narcissism."
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November 11th, 2018

"Eno's play is much more than just a playful comic lark...Michael C. Hall is dynamic enough as an actor to hold our attention for 70 minutes, keeping us rapt through Pain's quicksilver mood changes and evasive forays into whimsy. But a sense of pained inner life is lacking in Hall's interpretation, with the actor seemingly prizing speed over depth in delivering his character's ramblings...It's a tribute to the richness of Eno's play that it survives a relatively superficial approach."
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November 29th, 2018

"I'm mystified by the entirety of Will Eno's play, beginning with the title, which seems to reach in the direction of cleverness before pausing, thinking about it, and giving up altogether...At times, 'Thom Pain' feels like nothing more than a series of delaying tactics with no discernible endpoint...Michael C. Hall, the star of this production, brings much more presence than his predecessor, along with some dry humor and tantalizing intimations of psychological darkness."
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November 11th, 2018

"Lest one think Thom Pain makes for miserable company, Eno has created a highly entertaining, poignant, and intellectually stimulating evening...As Thom Pain, Hall is outstanding. He has the requisite charm to bring the audience into his confidence, while sporadically gesturing toward the seething bitterness and sadness just below the surface...Under Oliver Butler's direction, this is also a master class in comedy."
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November 11th, 2018

"A persuasive actor, sensitive to the mood of the viewers he addresses, Hall conveys the impression that Thom is disappointed over how his life so far as turned out, but has not yet turned bitter about it...The largest among Signature’s three theaters, its 294-seat space, with its deep, expansive, 60-foot wide stage, is not so conducive to an intimate solo show such as this one, but Butler’s supportive production and Hall’s intriguing presence usually are able to bridge the distance."
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November 11th, 2018

"Eno, whose richly idiosyncratic use of language has made him one of the most distinctive creative voices of his generation, is addressing the challenges of self-expression...Eno, Butler and their collaborators are showing us humanity at its rawest and most essential, and Hall—ironically seductive (as Thom should be), wearing a suit and tie, no less—captures the desperate energy and longing beneath Thom’s caustic wit, while serving that last factor impeccably."
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November 23rd, 2018

"Hall is a fine actor who keeps the audience fascinated, but he turns the play into a stand-up routine, purposely, rather than inadvertently, joking with the audience members and reacting to their laughter, even after lines that merit only shocked titters. Every interpretation is valid, but why spend an hour-plus with a pleasant, slightly irritating person when you could just as easily be moved, shocked, and titillated by a borderline lunatic."
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November 11th, 2018

"'Thom Pain' completely strays from the comfort of familiar dramatic elements like character or plot: the show is quite literally based on nothing...To do all this and literally say 'fuck you' to the audience, while still maintaining their respect and attention, is flooring to witness. While unsuspecting audience members might be offended, this revival underlines how, even fourteen years on, there are so many aspects of Eno’s play that the theatre world is just beginning to scratch the surface of."
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November 17th, 2018

“The script is a series of smooth set pieces that must be catnip to an ambitious actor but leave a reflective playgoer unsatisfied...The 2018 ‘Thom Pain’ is no more satisfying; but the magnified scale suits the grandiosity of Eno's exercise in synthetic Beckettry...Hall grabs the audience's attention; and he holds it firmly through even the most lackluster moments of Eno's script...Despite the benefit of Hall's fine performance, Eno's play is likely to be as polarizing in 2018 as it was in 2005."
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November 12th, 2018

"The thoughts and observations falling out of his mind are not linear and dance from avoidance, to gallows humor, to deep profundity that will leave you searching those parallels in your own life. There is a deep poetry in Eno’s words (me being a fan of Bukowski), a poetry of reflection, judgement and the bitter irony of what befalls us as we grumble, stumble and tumble through our lives."
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December 5th, 2018

"Playwright Will Eno asks a lot from his audience in terms of patience and openness, and with Michael C. Hall’s brilliantly captivating presence as the tour guide, we, on the most part are willing to be caught...Butler and Hall tug and tease our heart playfully with full commitment to the task, but leave us feeling a bit empty at the end, even with the entertaining mystic of possibility being engaged with."
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November 15th, 2018

"A strange beast...’Thom Pain’ feels like a proto work, a precursor to deeper observations to come. All of Eno’s trademark concerns are there...His playful toying with language is as enjoyable as ever. But the frequent asides and digressions, while fun, are a technique that Eno wisely came to use more sparingly...Hall registers an emotional blankness, giving little sense of the man hiding behind Thom’s verbal gymnastics.”
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November 30th, 2018

“Eno steps over, under, and in between the resting places of the literary canon’s most prominent surrealist writers of the past and present. Eno seems to stop there to chat, listen, tremble, and laugh with these greats, echoes of whom cascade across the stage in a stunning performance by Hall...Hall surgically deconstructs Pain’s life of seeming desperation and abuse with charismatic and winsome charm that alternately embraces then shuns the members of the audience.”
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November 16th, 2018

"I struggle to see anything profound in 'Thom Pain'...But I can’t deny Eno’s sly wordplay...For Thom’s jousts and jabs to feel like something more than random cleverness and intermittent entertainment, the actor must somehow show us an interior life that’s seething, longing, striving, bursting with sadness and anger and resentments and pain that he’s trying to mask. One might suppose that such seething could come easily to Hall...There is less menace than master of ceremonies."
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November 28th, 2018

“The script reminds me of the comic ‘Peanuts’, with Lucy repeatedly pulling the ball before Charlie Brown can kick it. Thom repeatedly promises the audience something and then abruptly retracts it...He alternately charms and alienates the audience...Lodged amidst the self-laceration and passive aggression are some very funny bits...If the thought of a rambling rant does not appeal to you, skip it. If you are a Michael C. Hall fan, you’ll want to catch it.”
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November 16th, 2018

"At just over an hour, 'Thom Pain' goes on a bit too long. But the play remains mostly entertaining thanks to Eno’s deadpan humour and some playful audience interaction, which leavens its knowing solipsism...Hall blends the devilish charisma he brought to Showtime’s ‘Dexter’ with the forlorn mien of Fisher in HBO’s ‘Six Feet Under’. He seems at once pitiable yet faintly intimidating. And by the end, we still only have a hazy idea of who he really is.”
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November 12th, 2018

"Hall keeps us mesmerized with just the right amount of confusion to make us wonder what is real and what isn’t, what is truth and what is not. When he asks several times if we like magic, he is also referring to the magic of theater, which Eno and director Oliver Butler tear down rather elegantly. It’s a disorienting yet exhilarating experience, a journey into the digressive nature of life...and the mind of a man trying to find his place in the world, just like we all are."
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November 20th, 2018

"Will Eno's terrific new play...is a sort of anti-TED talk, a rambling lecture that embarks on a series of digressions but never reaches anything like a point."
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November 23rd, 2018

“Nothing much happens in this 70 minutes of seemingly aimless ruminating. And yet there's so much beauty and humanity in it...Hall brings out the dark poetry of this play. He is ingratiating without ever being fully knowable...He's funny, charming, and completely believable...An astoundingly intimate show...A direct look into someone's unfiltered brain — sometimes wandering, ugly, and shallow, while at other times focused, lovely, and profound.”
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November 11th, 2018

"A thrilling revival...The stop-and-start storytelling alternates from the wry to the absurd to the profound, like some kind of existential stand-up act...Hall commands the stage just as he did when he played the M.C. in Broadway’s 'Cabaret,' especially when he leaves the stage to wander into the audience, asking questions without actually waiting for (or expecting) answers."
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November 11th, 2018

“This play tells a captivating tale of loss of innocence, finding love, losing love, and maintaining hope. Eno plays with words in this...one-character play that vividly depict the dichotomy of life’s journey. His use of language brilliantly paints the landscape of emotion that floods the turning point events that define a life...Butler seamlessly connects moment to moment, pulling truth to the surface of this distinctive theatrical work that is rich in subtext...A masterful and genuine performance."
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