Thom Pain (based on nothing) is an odd little totem that somehow, always, inadvertently finds itself in my book bag. Its pages are dog-eared, tattered, and falling out of its spine; it’s suffered many close readings, and each time I return to it, I inspect it again with renewed curiosity, empathy, and delight. The play travels with me frequently, perhaps, because of my personal approximation to the title character, Thom Pain—also the only character in the play—who playwright Will Eno describes as “a skinny, wounded, stray-dog type but with an odd intellectual aspect.” Thom speaks straight to the audience with a particular circumlocutory incisiveness; drawing stories about a boy and his dog, the love that’s left the room, and most imminently, the story unfolding right before him as he speaks, together to an untethered whole. Thom Pain (based on nothing) brilliantly etches hash marks around characters and events, revealing the porous nature of experience.

Soriya Chum, artistic & international programs intern

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