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Thom Pain (based on nothing) Seán Patrick Judge delivers a must-see, soul-searing performance in Will Eno's haunting monologue, put on by Nova Arts Project. Crackling and brittle, this angst-filled rave is about one man's very specific, private demons and angels, but it quickly turns into our own voyage, regardless of the particulars. "I strike people as the person who just left," says Pain, wearing a nondescript black suit and clunky square glasses. He stands in a black void, nicely conjured through Sarah White's limbo lighting and Brian White's extremely minimal setting. He could be an accountant, a nerd, an undertaker. Full of dreams, fears and unexpected comedy, his free-range rant encompasses boyhood, love, the need to connect and the "dead horse of a life we live." Like us, he wants magic, wants to be startled by life, wants to know he matters. But who really matters? That's the question the man asks in passages of such pricking insight, they might be poetry. Still, despite the pain, life goes on. Guarded optimism isn't a message we hear often enough these days, so this prophet is a refreshing voice in the wilderness. Surreptitiously directed by Matt Huff, Eno's everyman makes us sit up and listen. Judge makes us care. Through July 4. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Fwy., 1-800-595-4849. — DLG

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