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Pain and Gain

An old Gap store returns to life as an actor's playground.

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Veteran actor Scott Plate has performed in local big-name venues from Severance Hall to the Play House. But in Dobama Theatre’s production of Thom Pain (Based on Nothing), Plate performs the one-man show at an empty Gap store that has been transformed into an 80-seat theater. “Doing this play in a formal setting doesn’t seem right,” he says. “It seems better in a room where it looks like people have just shown up.”

The script -- by New York playwright Will Eno -- offers its share of intimate moments, especially since its protagonist talks directly to the audience. Throughout the show, the fictional Pain ruminates on his lonely childhood, failed romances, and menial jobs. “You feel sorry for him,” says Plate. “He wants us to realize what’s possible in ourselves, if we try to change something fundamental. The experience is meant to be moving, sometimes humorous, and ultimately uplifting.”

Plate first heard about the show in 2005, when it debuted in London and went on to win a top prize at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Plate teamed up with Dobama director Joel Hammer to stage its Ohio premiere. It’s also Plate’s first stab at a solo performance. “It’s scary but intense,” he says. “I’ve never read anything like it. It’s a different kind of challenge.”

To confront those challenges, Plate tapped into Pain’s nuances -- from his genius-level IQ to his flirtatious coyness. “It’s about the human condition,” he says. “If we care to look deeply into the truth of life’s bumps, warts, and glory, it’s all here in an hour and 10 minutes.”
Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Feb. 4. Continues through Feb. 17

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