Down in the cellar of the German Club, there is a man full of warm and empty smiles.

David Calvitto is the sunniest nihilist in the room, as the eponymous Thom Payne, carrying the vague air of an insurance salesman who keeps abandoning his pitches moments before closing the deal.

A Pulitzer Prize-nominated play, written by American playwright Will Eno, this stripped-down deconstruction of solo performance is a medley of shelved attempts at audience participation and stories that keep on turning in on themselves.

Calvitto, his tidy silver hair blemished by a single upright wisp, and his sharp black suit marred by one undone button, does a good job of doing a bad job, looking especially pleased when his punchlines fall flat, and somewhat pitying when they hit the mark.

The early (and swift) exit of an audience member prompted a cheerful stream of abuse from the actor, who soon after ducked upstairs to hush the booming voice of another event’s MC — two events so in keeping with the general spirit of the show that attempting to figure out whether or not they were setups was something of an exercise in futility.


For show times and to book tickets, see the Fringe guide.