Thom Pain (based on nothing)

Solo Show · self-produced · Ages 18+ · United States of America

one person show
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June 20, 2022 certified reviewer
tagged as: harrowing · clever · labyrinthine · witty · dark · surrealist

What I liked

Johnny’s seamless transitions, his playful banter at times both with himself, the audience and (occasionally it seems) to no-one present. It was a meticulous and thoroughly rehearsed version of the play where nothing was lost and all the pieces fit together effortlessly.

What I didn't like

Very little. I would love to see Mr. Yoder try this again in a decade or so. I sometimes found myself wondering if the flashes to the past couldn’t have been more visceral to Thom Pain’s character himself, almost as though he was reliving them. There were sections where those recountings of personal history felt a bit detached from emotion – but that may have been the actor and director’s choice. Regardless, it was an excellent night of theater.

My overall impression

A fantastic reboot of a beloved and modern classic. Johnny Yoder gives his audience 70 uninterrupted minutes wallowing in the bitter self-consciousness of the plays’ only character, Thom Pain. Yoder seamlessly jumps from small quips and practical jokes on the audience, to diving back into his childhood to unearth the emotional and psychological injuries inflicted on him in his youth. It is a deft performance coupled with talented and precise direction by Bryan Keith. Never for a second does it not feel like Mr. Yoder is in control of his material, the audience and imparting a nuanced show thick with a wide and thick variety of dialogue and imagery. Definitely worth seeing if you have the opportunity.

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