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Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) at Old Fitzroy Theatre - Review

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by Katherine Thomas (subscribe)
Having spent the last few years living abroad I now wish to rediscover my home city of Sydney to keep that 'travelling feeling' and share my findings with those that might want a bit of inspiration.
Event: -
What will be next for Sydney Independent Theatre Company?
The Old Fitzroy is one of Sydney's not-so-secret gems that requires locals and wanna-be locals to deviate from the main streets. They are in turn rewarded with a venue that is warm, welcoming and utterly charming providing a feast for the eyes, the palate and also the mind. Not just your typical pub, the Old Fitzroy Hotel in Woolloomooloo is also the proud home to the Sydney Independent Theatre Company as the company in residence of the Fitzroy Theatre.

As one would expect, the theatre is relatively intimate with the entrance alongside the stage leading to tiered seating. With roughly 60 seats it is less than a quarter of the size of Sydney's traditional theatre venues (think the State Theatre and co. in their multiples of hundreds), yet it is much more accessible. Performances are affordable (only $32 full price), and the venue in itself invites patrons to linger both before and after the show in the multitude of homey spaces. Enjoy being fireside? Cuddle up to the open fireplace. Outdoor dining take your pick of street side or the open air dining room. Hopefully you'll be able to get a ticket, which could be a problem if all performances are as popular as May 5th was with only 1 or 2 empty seats.

Thom Pain, Sydney theatre, live theatre, Sydney Independent Theatre Company
David Jeffrey as Thom Pain

Thom Pain (based on nothing) by Will Eno is just one of the theatre's productions scheduled for 2014 and was a pleasure to watch. Being unfamiliar with the work, it was slightly surprising to realize that the production was a one-man show, but the audience was gently eased into the structure by the charm and interactive nature of David Jeffrey, aka Thom Pain. David was a delight to watch as he carried the content with impeccable comedic timing, drawing energy from the audience reactions. He varied pace, placement, dialogue and techniques in a way that kept boredom at bay for you never knew what he would think or do next. A true professional, when an audience member arrived late he acknowledged her with aplomb, never breaking character but putting both her and the rest of the audience at ease without missing a beat. Even the simple act of attempting (and failing) to light a cigarette several times was done in a manner that incited laughter and compassion due to the punctuation of David's commentary.

The production was minimalist. Very bare set with only a chair and a table, minor use of sound effects other than the actor. Well-considered lighting and strong delivery from the actor ensured that the play was all the stronger for it. As an audience member, you not only learnt about the title character, but were also invited to engage in self-reflection along with him.

Whilst not the production for everyone (particularly those whom prefer watching a whole company in performance), Thom Pain as a production did a good job to introduce a new viewer to both the Sydney Independent Theatre Company and also the Old Fitzroy Hotel. The venue itself was charming. The staff were friendly, the dramatic content interesting, and the actor was skilled. Have no hesitation in booking tickets to future performances as the use of the space is only set to get better.

Congratulations Sydney Independent Theatre Company on a strong performance and a successful collaboration with the Fitzroy Theatre. As you produce more performances you are sure to garner a strong reputation for innovative productions that are mentally stimulating and enjoyable to watch. Just hopefully you will have longer runs for your shows, so that those who aren't so quick off the mark to snap up tickets will still be in with the chance to snag a seat.
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*Katherine Thomas was invited as a guest
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Why? Affordable and enjoyable live theatre
When: 5-10 May
Phone: 1300 307264
Where: 129 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo
Cost: $32 full, $26 concession
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