Thom Pain, 2005's Most Unlikely Hit, Closes Dec. 24

News   Thom Pain, 2005's Most Unlikely Hit, Closes Dec. 24
Thom Pain (based on nothing) by Will Eno will end its nearly year-long run Off-Broadway on Dec. 24, with ample reason for a very, Merry Christmas.
James Urbaniak as the original Thom Pain.
James Urbaniak as the original Thom Pain.

Few expected, when the existential solo comedy opened at the DR2 Theatre on Feb. 1, that the production would still be there at the end of the season—let alone half way through the next. But the New York Times' second-string critic Charles Isherwood honored the work by the then-unknown Eno with a by-now-lengendary rave review (even going so far as to write the notice in an imitation of Eno's idiosyncratic, cerebral-sardonic, herky-jerky writing style).

Other papers also praised the work, and soon a scheduled limitied run through April 3 was extended to July 3, then Sept. 4, and finally until Dec. 31 (later changed to Dec. 24).

The show recouped its investment in May.

The work debuted in London at the Soho Theatre as a reading, then played with James Urbaniak in the title role at the Edinburgh Festival, before returning for a limited run at the Soho Theatre. Hal Brooks directed the work in the New York run, which also starred Ubaniak, and is produced Daryl Roth and Bob Boyett.

The play was is billed as "a wry monologue in which an ordinary man, Thom Pain, muses on childhood, yearning, disappointment and loss, cataloguing the eternal agonies of the human condition as he draws his audience into his last-ditch plea for empathy and enlightenment." The show's odd opening is an apt introduction to what follows. Urbaniak stands unseen on a pitch dark stage. He then tries for a dramatic entrance by lighting a match. But the match fails to light, and Urbaniak cracks: "Nice to see you."

Michael Milligan took over the title role on Nov. 21. He replaced T. Ryder Smith, who in turn replaced original star Urbaniak, who departed on Sept. 4.

Eno won Newsday's George Oppenheimer Award as Most Promising Playwright for The Flu Season, which was produced by Rude Mechanicals at the Blue Heron Arts Center. Eno is an Albee protégé whose style has often been compared to that of the elder playwright.

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