“Enough about me, let’s get to our story”
John Light’s performance in bringing this hour-long Will Eno monologue to life has to be one of the most mesmerising experience currently available to theatregoers. Simon Evans’ revival of Thom Pain (based on nothing) at the Print Room in West London is an unrelenting search for the self which, initially at least, balances the prolonged processing of existential angst with a vein of scabrous, self-lacerating humour to inspirational effect.
Alone on the stage, Pain is a man telling us stories. Amusing anecdotes from a klutzy childhood, the travails of a failed relationship, but the darkness that lies behind his troubled psychology is never far away and as the drama (metaphorically) rolls up its sleeves, it reveals the long-lasting scars these experiences have left. But Eno is less concerned about a pat reveal of early trauma shaping a man’s life, his focus is more on the survival mechanisms, the way in which people deal, and then continue.
And the way in which Light performs this has an equally challenging dichotomy. The boundaries between actor and audience are blurred as Eno builds in an additional layer of interrogation of the theatrical form. Pain is aware of the people seated in front of him, addresses them, is performing for them, possibly speaking of the need that we all have, just to have someone listen for a while. Light’s delivery is just superb, somehow imbuing the incredible verbosity with a free-flowing naturalism that is entirely engaging, even in the darkest moments.