The German Club – Cellar, Sun 14 Feb
Normally a theatre piece will look to find some comfort for the audience and rapport between the actor(s) and the crowd early on – but in Thom Pain (based on nothing) – there are no such niceties. Right from the start there is a scatty narrative with contradictions and continuing insistence that neither the details nor the stories matter at all.
The narrative, upon some later reflection, are excerpts from a life story, and while one might suspect that the gorier of the details are exaggerated, in order to further discomfort the audience, the stories are intended to further the ‘Based On Nothing’ part of the title, rather than the myth of Thom Pain. Reality is questioned, or at least viewed through changing existential eyes, where black might later be white and vice versa, something that not all of tonight’s audience appreciated. Multiple and interrupted narrative, a mix of genre and various delivery techniques are all used to underline the foundation of fear and meaninglessness that Thom Pain is all about.
Interestingly and despite the intent of disconnectedness, there are some great one-liners through the show and there are times where the audience will lose track of the narrative by finding themselves in the story – more an insight into the human condition than an intentioned engaging of disbelief.
As for the character delivering the narrative, does he really matter? What does he believe? Is it what he is telling us? Irrespective of this, the verbal gymnastics are engaging and entertaining, there is an occasional leap from the lyrical to the sublime. But in line with the intent of the show, sublime is not a place to linger, but to provide colour against the grimness of the intrusive and meaningless world and of our existence.
This is a show that may cause ideas to be bouncing around inside your cranium for some time afterwards – and that, to me, means good theatre.
‘Thom Pain (Based On Nothing)’ By Will Eno continues at The German Club – Cellar, at various times, until Sun 6 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.