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Thom Pain (based on nothing)

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  175 ratings  ·  30 reviews
"One of the finest young playwrights I have come across in a number of years."-Edward Albee From the dark corners of Western civilization, here comes Thom Pain, telling it like it is, like it isn't, like it should be. A nobody, an everyman, hey, he's just like you. Will Eno's "Thom Pain" was one of the biggest hits of the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Published April 1st 2005 by Oberon Books
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(showing 1-30 of 278)
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A runner-up for the Pulitzer in 2005, Thom Pain is the weak sibling to the other two finalists, The Clean House and Doubt (the winner, and one of my favorite plays).

Something bothered me from the start of Thom Pain, but I couldn’t immediately put my finger on what that was. Then it hit me, and I couldn't unsee it. A friend recently read The Artist’s Way and mentioned its suggested morning pages in an email. That’s what Thom Pain reads like: as if Mr. Eno had taken his own morning pages (I have n
Larry C
After seeing The Realistic Joneses, which I didn't like, I decided to read some Eno to get a better understanding of his style. Was I missing something from Joneses, this Beckett meets Albee for a new generation? After trudging through a mindless 30 pages of Thom Pain, I learned that I just don't like his style. This play reads as if it has a deep meaning or understanding so that we can all relate. I found myself relating to the pissed off audience that paid to see this terrible play. I'll stick ...more
Carol Jean
Well...very difficult! I need to reread it, I think....though it's a bit icky, so I'm not looking forward to the experience. The style reminded me a bit of Eddie Izzard, with the constant contradictions of what has just been said.
Enrique Valdivia
I heard some excerpts of Thom Pain on Public Radio and was so struck by the language I bought the book, a collection of three one act, one character plays written in a style that makes Beckett seem cheerful. It's a short quick read full of great passages such as

"When did your childhood end? How badly did you get hurt, when you did, when you were this little, when you were this wee little hurtable thing, nothing but big eyes, a heart, a few hundred words? Isn't it wonderful how we never recover?"
I can see how Eno has been called a poor man's modern Beckett. Very interesting, Mr Theatre comes home different was the best of them, in my opinion.
I first read about this author about five years ago, but never followed up. Then I saw a production of his "The Flu Season" and I got interested. I don't think I've actually read a play in over a year, if you can believe that. Anyway, this is very clever, which is both its greatest strength and weakness. He can be dazzling sometimes, but he can also seem a bit random and a bit TOO clever. If you don't know his work, he's worth knowing about. He's one of the more interesting "alternative" playwri ...more
An awful lot of stuff in such a small, concise package.
I really really really want to perform this monologue. In a dark theatre.
I first learned of Will Eno through an interview with one of the creators of Welcome to Night Vale, and I can 100% see the similarities: the language, the rhythm/tone, the themes. I found myself wanting to add "and now, the weather" throughout, haha. I would love to see this performed, as I'm sure it loses some of the impact when just reading it, but I still had a few moments when I felt compelled to write "oof." in the margins. And that's a good thing.
This would have been four stars for Thom Pain itself. I found the lead piece to be challenging, funny, moving, and exciting. Eno's text as Pain recounts the major experiences of his life are harsh, vulnerable, loving, and truly compassionate. Great stuff.

But three stars because the other two pieces, called "monologues for the theatre," left me damned cold, reading like variations on the lead piece, neither coming close to the power of the original.
It is hard to know what to say about this brief, challenging, and ultimately touching piece. We are clearly in Beckett/Albee territory here, as Eno introduces us to the deeply battered and bruised Thom Pain, a character teetering on the edge of void and sharing fragments of his story as either one final jab or one more try at genuine connection. It would be great to see this performed I order to see how it really lands.
Dec 16, 2007 Libby rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
I took Hallie to see this play on her birthday in 2005. It was freezing out. The theater was right off Union Square, and Frances McDormand and Joel Coen sat right in front of us. This is one of my favorite New York memories. The wrenching sadness of this play shocked me; it felt so untheatery. I actually bought the book in the theater lobby. I really want to see Will Eno's new playlets. Damn Minnesota.
This is a play to see live, if there is an incredible actor to play the part of Thom. However, it loses something in reading it. I found myself struggling to remain attentive and having to re-read paragraphs after realizing my mind had wandered through several of them in a row.
Jessica Davis
"Isn't it great to be alive?"
It makes you think.
It makes you confused.
It makes you wonder.
It makes you thankful.
It makes you angry.

All terms describe Thom Pain and his unconventional monologue.

It made me enjoy the ride.
"When did your childhood end? How badly did you get hurt, when you did, when you were this little, when you were this wee little hurtable thing, nothing but big eyes, a heart, a few hundred words? Isn't it wonderful how we never recover?"
I read through this play in one sitting for it isn't very long, but when I was done with it I felt like I had been put through the ringer. A play filled with wit, pathos, and what feels like a cigarette burn to the mind.

Gets better with every reading. Edward Albee recommended this to me when I first met him. He said if he had to suggest one young playwright it would be Will Eno. Thanks Ed.
Intensely post-modern.
its really playful and entertaining even though there is only one character.
It can be read in about half an hour.
I loved it a lot.
I'm sure this would be 4 stars if I had seen it performed live instead of having read it. This is clearly an actors' play. Forceful, and experiential.
The best monologue I've read since typing out a transcription of a voicemail my dad left me in which he ranted about how I didn't like his wife.
Christopher Dooley
Heartbreaking and incredibly powerful. If you like modern plays this is a must read.
Not really my cup of tea, but I imagine it makes more sense when seen performed.
I loved this play. Taught me a lot about myself, and attitudes toward life.
Jeremy Martens
Entertaining. Some good lines. Not the biggest fan, but good.
Lorma Doone
Just read it, man. Will Eno is a genius.
Better on stage than read. Highly original.
Poetic. Heartbreaking. Genius.
Oh just break my heart why don't you.
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“When did your childhood end? How badly did you get hurt, when you did, when you were this little wee little hurtable thing, nothing but big eyes, a heart, a few hundred words? Isn’t it wonderful how we never recover? Injuries and wounds, ladies and gents. Slights and abuses, oh, what a paradise. Living in fear, suiting the hurt to our need. What a happy life. What a good game. Who can stand the most, the most life, and still smile, still grin into the coming night and say more, more, encore, encore, you fuckers, you fates, just give me more of the bloody bloody same.” 3 likes
“I disappeared in her and she, wondering where I went, left.” 3 likes
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