Dir Christy Shapiro
Cast John Pokrzywinski
Local theatre company Urban Aphrodite takes a sharp turn away
from the tension of last month’s Who’s Afraid of
Virginia Woolf with Will Eno’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated Thom Pain (based on
nothing), a morbid but witty one-man monologue.
The show begins in the dark, with a man on
stage struggling to light a cigarette. From that point on, it becomes clear
that Thom Pain is not about a man for whom life has been easy. For the course
of its one-hour run, the show features the title character standing alone on
stage as he muses about several traumatic life experiences: the death of his
childhood dog, a harrowing bee-sting incident, and the loss of his first love.
As the three stories intertwine, the
monologue provokes feelings of devastating loss and life’s inevitable
mediocrity. Yet, a sense of macabre humor prevails, from Pain’s sarcastic
self-deprecating silliness to his half-hearted bits of audience involvement.
This, combined with Pain’s slightly disheveled appearance, almost makes the
show seem like a stand-up comedy gone awry.
With it’s low ceilings and cramped space,
the top floor of Sasha’s is again a perfect setting for the intimate show. The small venue allows
actor John Pokrzywinski to navigate his way around the stage and chairs to best
make eye contact with each and every audience member, making them squirm not
only with his tense stories but with his attentiveness. The audience has no room to run away from the title character as he waxes on about
life’s hard truths. As he delivers the difficult monologue, Pokrzywinski
delivers as relatable and realistic Pain.
As dark as it is, Thom Pain may not be a
show for everyone – however, for those looking for a thought-provoking piece of
theatre, Urban Aphrodite’s intimate presentation hits just the right notes of
discomfort and humor that have made the show acclaimed world-wide.
Thom Pain (based on nothing) is at Sasha’s
(third floor) from May 3-4. See full event details