Travel should take you places—so says the tagline of a major hotel chain (and the Brooklyn-based indie band The Kickdrums). In his one-man show, The Chronic Single’s Handbook, Boston-based writer and performer Randy Ross brings the audience along on his search for love, which takes him across four continents. Unfortunately, after 60 minutes of storytelling, our destination—and our guide—seemed unchanged and indistinguishable from our point of departure.
Billed as “Eat, Pray, Love from a man’s perspective,” the show is based on the true story of Ross’s trip around the world in search of the perfect woman. The impetus for this journey is our narrator finding himself in his 50s, never married, and recently laid off, with only Ambien, Vicodin, and Heineken to keep him company. So, he takes his severance, packs his things, and heads to Greece, South Africa, and Southeast Asia in search of what he can’t seem to find at home.
Rather than recount tales of food, prayer, or love, Ross reveals bits of himself via tales of sexual misadventures—of the three overseas encounters he describes, two go unconsummated, and the one that does he has to pay for—and flashbacks to his life and past relationships in Boston, where he can’t seem to force himself to be content with yoking himself a boring, safe partner, and instead is compelled to seek out wild, unstable women.
There are some genuinely funny moments throughout Ross’s retelling, and just as many that make you cringe (not always necessarily in a bad way). Ross himself is a natural performer once he gets into it—for the first scene or so, his delivery was a little stiff and reminiscent of a motivational speaker, but as the story unfolds, he becomes more relaxed and settles into his own skin. This allows the audience, too, to relax and go with him on his journey.
The Chronic Single’s Handbook
by Randy Ross
1021 7th Street NW 3rd Floor
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
For all of the globe trekking and flashing back and forth between time that occur throughout the play, one gets the sense by the end that we’re right back where we started. The supposed reason for his jaunt is to find love and his ideal woman, but that mission goes unfulfilled. There’s also the more introspective journey of attempting to move away from erratic women and settle for a more average ladyfriend, but that, too, doesn’t seem to take. In fact, the only thing that’s overtly different about his life by the end of the piece is that he ditches his therapist. I suppose determining not to settle and instead embrace his life as a crazy-person-loving bachelor in itself could be deemed progress, but this is never really explicitly acknowledged.
Ross announces in the program that the material upon which the play is based will soon be turned into a novel, and perhaps this format will better allow him to show how his adventures have changed him. As it’s presented now, however, for a play about travel, The Chronic Single’s Handbook isn’t particularly transporting.