Fortune Theatre Studio, Dunedin

03/03/2016 - 05/03/2016

Dunedin Fringe 2016

Production Details

Thom Pain believes only three things have happened in his life; falling in love, his dog dying and being stung by a hive of bees. 

He’s just like you, except worse. He is trying to save his life, to save your life—in that order. In his quest for salvation, he’ll stop at nothing, be distracted by nothing, except maybe a piece of lint, or the woman in the second row.

He believes he has all the answers, but he also thinks he is hosting a raffle.

Nominated for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Thom Pain: Based on Nothing is produced by award winning theatre company Big Lies – who were runners up at the 2015 Dunedin Fringe for ‘Best Theatre’ and the 2015 New Zealand fringe for ‘Best Newcomer’ with their work Pupil Zero.

Review for Thom Pain:
‘Astonishing in its impact… One of those treasured nights in the theatre that can leave you both breathless with exhilaration and in a puddle of tears… Four stars. Plus an extra.’ – New York Times

Fortune Theatre Studio
3-5th March
Full $16 / Concession $13 
Tickets from 

Thom Pain - Trubie Dylan-Smith

Director – Alex Wilson
Design – George Wallace
Marketing – Abby Howells  

Theatre ,

A little too clever for its own good?

Review by Alison Embleton 05th Mar 2016

Darkness. The strike of a match, and a disembodied voice: “How wonderful to see you all.” Meet Thom Pain, he’s a little eccentric and strangely compelling for such a terrible story-teller.  The title gives fair warning that this show is not going to be run-of-the mill, and it certainly delivers.

Trubie Dylan-Smith, the sole actor, has a wonderfully rich and resonant voice. This sets him up well as Thom Pain, the titular rambling philosopher we’re here to see. While Smith’s stage presence is strong, there are some weaknesses throughout the performance. The set items feel unnecessary and as they are employed in only the most cursory of ways, one must assume they were specified in the script. However they seem like an afterthought in this production, becoming distracting as after 45 minutes you wonder if they are going to serve any purpose at all.

Thom Pain is riddled with audience interaction, or rather the threat of interaction as nearly every question and action put to the audience is retracted. To the relief of many!  While this adds a curious and effective element of discomfort – pushing the boundaries of what it is to be an audience – it doesn’t always work. The ‘walk-out’ which occurs early on is disappointingly staged, the lack of subtlety undercutting its purpose.

There are some brilliant one-liners, as well a few beautifully delivered observations about human frailty and failure. Thom Pain pushes us to consider how we behave and why we feel the need to validate ourselves. He tells several stories, recollecting his early and present life, jumping about in time and playing creatively with the format of memory.

Again, this is well executed by Dylan-Smith, who manages to keep pace with the rather nihilistic, narcissistic script without becoming too unbearable… Well maybe a little, but he’s very charming.

It’s one thing to be challenged by theatre, especially by a Fringe Festival performance – an audience member should hope to be caught unawares, to be confronted and to be asked to think outside the box – but it’s another thing when a performance leaves you with lingering feelings of inadequacy. While this feeling is touched on in the production (and so could be the desired effect) in this instance it feels a little hostile.

After conversing with a few other audience members post-production, there is a great rush of relief as we all begin to realise we are not the only ones to not quite ‘get it’, or to feel as if we were being mocked in some way.

Perhaps Thom Pain is a little too clever for its own good?


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