Midnight Company
Now Playing The Company Past Productions News Contact Us
Joe Hanrahan spotted the first reviews of ThomPain (based on nothing) from its New York premiere in February, 2005. He followed up, and pursued the rights, til they were finally granted for a St. Louis show in August, 2006. Balaban's was chosen as the perfect space to present this intimate one-man show, and Joe's frequent collaborator, Larry Dell, signed on to make his debut as a stage director, after assisting with SKYLIGHT.

KDHX Theatre Review - ThomPain (based on nothing) AfterMIDNIGHT
Reviewed by Nancy Crouse

“These are the times that try men's souls,” said pamphleteer Thomas Paine during the “crisis” of the American Revolution, but Will Eno, contemporary American playwright, explores the crisis of a modern “hollow man” in ThomPain (based on nothing). Directed by Larry Dell, actor Joe Hanrahan unobtrusively creates “a man who tries, a trying man” in this one-man tour de force. AfterMIDNIGHT produces the St. Louis debut of this wry, sardonic 65-minute 2005 Pulitzer nominated monologue in the basement of Café Balaban, 405 N. Euclid Avenue, through August 26 [2006].
Soon the din of the café above fades as the self-effacing man ThomPain tries to find the light or enlightenment in his disjointed existential musings. The conundrum of Thom's ramblings confuses, amuses, then fascinates. He tells us stories with graphic, metaphoric images of a boy, a dog, a man, a dreamer, a lover, a loser, a brain, and a snot rag, all more-or-less significant (he can't differentiate), all haunted by his name-Pain-without the e of the historical imperative, all haunted by the parenthetic subtitle “based on nothing.”

If you like a puzzle, Thom's fragments assemble into a picture of a neglected boy-man, who loses himself early and often. His stinging “pain” can be linked to his childhood of neglect and loss including an experience of being stung repeatedly by a nest of bees and his inability to distinguish his internal pain from external stings. Initially he welcomes the stingers, thinking the bees are actually helping him. His love-hate for himself and the world seems unrelenting, yet he's still trying. He's pathetic as he says of his love, “I disappeared in her, and she, wondering where I went, left.” Momentarily assuming the attitude of a standup comedian, he feigns conducting a raffle or a magic act, yet he's only mastered a disappearing act. With the ironic quip, “Isn't it great to be alive,” he disappears as unobtrusively as he arrived.

If you like studies in modern human irony and existential angst showcased in minimalist thought-provoking word theatre, see afterMidnight's ThomPain (based on nothing). It's something to try at Café Balaban at 7:30 PM on Fridays and 7 and 9 PM on Saturdays through August 26. Call 314-487-5305 for reservations.

KWMU Theatre & Film Critic: Joe Pollack
Thom Pain - Based on Nothing

Joe Hanrahan is a St. Louis actor who marches to a very different drummer. He writes and he acts, and he likes odd performance spaces, like restaurant basements or back rooms in bars. Hanrahan's After Midnight company opened "Thom Pain, Based on Nothing," over the weekend as a one-man show at Balaban's, in the Central West End.

Those with a taste for Seinfeldian humor will find it interesting, intriguing and generally entertaining as it runs thrugh August 26. Those who were not amused by Jerry Seinfeld and friends will wonder exactly what is going on, and will find no answers.

"Thom Pain, Based on Nothing" is by Brooklyn playwright Will Eno, and it first appeared at the famous Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, where plays like this are in high demand – actually, it won Best Play honors at the 2004 festival.

Hanrahan, wearing schoolmaster glasses and a dark suit, stands in the front of the room and speaks on a wide variety of subjects for an hour. There's no story line, little coherence. At times, there's a Woody Allen tone to the monologue, with lines like, "‘You've changed,' she said the day we met," or "Nature laughs hardest, and best, and last.

"Yet Hanrahan is strong enough to maintain interest and attention, and to provide what this viewer considered proper entertainment. "Thom Pain, Based on Nothing," through Aug. 26.

ThomPain (based on nothing)
By Judith Newmark

"ThomPain," let's be clear, has nothing to do with the Revolutionary War pamphleteer. Playwright Will Eno's Thom is a modern man - an ultra-modern man - who spends about an hour addressing his audience, alone on stage.

"Stage" is really too formal a term for the afterMidnight production, directed by Larry Dell. Thom (Joe Hanrahan) dominates one end of a long room in a restaurant, moving through the audience now and then. He's an ordinary man in a coat and tie, not a flamboyant performance artist. And he is miserable.

He starts to entertain us ("Do you like magic?") but cuts himself off. He flirts with a woman at a table, then abruptly turns his back on her. He seems to have the attention span of a fruitfly, but he's not so much bored as preoccupied. Again and again, Thom muses on two great losses - one in childhood, the other much more recent. Without fanfare, his grief turns into gravity that pulls him helplessly back into the orbit of loss.

It's an intriguing performance of something most of us have experienced but have rarely observed: falling asleep with something on your mind. You'd like to let it go, but you just can't.

The sensation makes for theater with compelling, surprisingly familiar rhythms. But they are familiar from life, not from the stage. In a way, it's "Much Ado" turned inside-out.

An avant-garde work, "ThomPain" has won considerable attention in New York and London, and the production here is as edgy as anything we've seen in ages. Theater-goers should be aware that the piece includes very strong language.

ThomPain (based on nothing)
Reviewed by Deanna Jent
Riverfront Times

Thom Pain (based on nothing) Will Eno's acerbic monologue play claims to be "based on nothing," but the familiar opening line of Thomas Paine's The Crisis — "These are the times that try men's souls" certainly captures the spirit of this work. Performed by Joe Hanrahan (no stranger to one-man shows), Thom Pain begins as a stand-up routine but moves slyly into an intriguing examination of the struggles of life.

Staged in a downstairs room at Café Balaban, this After Midnight production battles the distracting noises of the restaurant. The deliberately disjointed script ranges from macabre tales of childhood woes to heartfelt deliberations on true love.

Director Larry Dell matches Hanrahan's deadpan delivery nicely with the text, but some parts that need to seem spontaneous seem scripted, and the emotional climax lacks intensity. Through August 26 at Café Balaban, 405 North Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $15. Call 314-487-5305


Home Now Playing The Company Past Productions News Contact Us

Revised: October, 2007
Copyright © The Midnight Company