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Off Broadway

He Says: Thom Pain (based on nothing) is

He Says: Thom Pain (based on nothing) is

It is, exactly that. An abstract compilation of thoughts and meandering passages that is both funny, charming, and infantile, oddly engaging and utterly frustrating. Playwright Will Eno (The Open House) asks a lot from his audience in terms of patience and openness, and with Michael C. Hall’s (Eno/Broadway’s The Realistic Joneses, NYTW’s Lazarus) brilliantly captivating presence as the tour guide, we, on the most part are willing to be caught. That is at least for the 70 minutes that he asks us to try to follow the haphazard storytelling stroll through the main character’s mind and quick change thought process.

Thon PaineBy Will Eno Directed By Oliver Butler Michael C Hall
Michael C Hall. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Directed with a clever meandering quality by Oliver Butler (NYTW’s What the Constitution Means to Me, Vineyard’s The Amateurs), Thom Pain plays and prods, daring us to believe in his beginnings and mischievous backtrack loops. He takes us here and there and back again on the wide open expanse of Signature Theatre‘s stage designed with an elegantly haphazard touch by Amy Rubin (TNG’s All the Fine Boys), a suited and simple costume design by Anita Yavich (Public’s Oedipus El Rey), detailed and intimate lighting by Jen Schriever (MTC’s Dan Cody’s Yacht), and pitch perfect sound by Lee Kinney (PH’s The Light Years). Butler and Hall tug and tease our heart playfully with full commitment to the task, but leave us feeling a bit empty at the end, even with the entertaining mystic of possibility being engaged with. Hall’s masterful performance elevates Thom Pain to ridiculously towering heights, challenging our attention deficit and pleasing his own self with asides and winks. He paints a beautiful detailed picture with poetic nonsense, negating it before we can ever fully understand. I can’t say I was with Thom Pain from beginning to end, checking my watch from time to time, much in the same way Eno’s Wakey, Wakey distanced me from the heart of the matter but the zigzagging hike to nowhere isn’t a complete waste of time either. It’s pleasurable absurdity and sleight of hand, begging an answer to the question, “Do you like magic?“, but never really telling us why our response matters, either way. We zigzag to nowhere and back under Hall’s charming persona, happily trailing along behind and smiling with delight at the scenic route we are taking; without much understanding of the purpose, other than just a rambling sense of pleasure and cleverness.

Thon PaineBy Will Eno Directed By Oliver Butler Michael C Hall
Thom Paine By Will Eno, Directed By Oliver Butler, with Michael C Hall. Photo by Joan Marcus. Signature Theatre.

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Off Broadway

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to

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