Thom Pain (based on nothing)

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Life is short and life is shit. Both sentiments can seem like truisms on stage, but they're rarely so carefully sewn together as in Will Eno's searching little monologue. For an hour, it purrs bald truths and existential crises – that life is pain and solitude – but somehow still sends you away keen to carpe that diem.

Thom Pain seems a man spat out by the spin cycle of contemporary life. His black suit is slick, but dishevelled: top button undone, tie loosened, unshaven. There's an air of insomnia about him, or of post-going postal calm. He speaks to us in parables: of a bee sting, a dead dog and a lost love. Pain's heart isn't broken – his life goes on – but it is bruised beyond repair.

In Simon Evans's restrained revival, performer John Light is totally in tune with the precision of Eno's writing, which is always gentle, always blunt and thoroughly self-aware. He uses the situation of stage and audience to great effect without tipping into navel-gazing. Light chews on big ideas and toys with us mischievously. Imagine a university lecturer abandoning his notes for impromptu home-truths or a best man's speech at a funeral. It's desolate, sure, but strangely inspiring.

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