By Danielle Crean
As I sat down to watch “Chaos Theory,” I knew the play would probably live up to its title. The set presented a bedroom with papers scattered everywhere, as well as a noose, a bottle of pills, and a laminated photo of a gun. Actor and writer Randy Neale entered wearing what you’d expect he average person to have on when they get up in the morning: a bathrobe, pajamas, and slippers.
Mr. Neale spent the next seventy‑five minutes ranting about the state of our planet and those who inhabit it. I use the word ranting instead of explaining, because what he said and how he said it reflected the way chaotic thoughts run around our brains. Sometimes it’s hard to articulate what’s bothering us, so we just throw it all out there, and hope it makes sense to someone. He spoke like a man with much to say in a limited amount of time: fast, sporadic, and sometimes a tad loud.
Mr. Neale questioned why our current existence is such a mess. In his frenzied quest for answers, he used a projector, books, and a dry erase board to make his points. He addressed the audience without expecting a response, in the way that, when we want answers that no one can really know, we ask the infinite void and hope it comforts us even a little bit.
The topics he broached are relevant at a time of a dying planet and a loss of hope for a better political future. They are also necessary, because eventually something must be done. He spoke about the president’s spoiled upbringing, and his contempt for the poor. He vented about how the seven deadly sins are embodied in our current leader, and questioned how we as Americans let it get this far.
He touched upon religion, which I considered to be a bold move. It is difficult for someone to be so open about their lack of belief in a higher power, and to question faith. Mr. Neale also brought up violence in our country, and remarked how this year saw more school shootings than ever before. On the dry erase board, he wrote down a series of numbers, and said that the human population has tripled since he was born. So have the number of police officers, and guns in each home. “If the number of guns goes up, that should make you feel even more safe, right?” he asked sarcastically.
Mr. Neale talked about each item on a table next to the gun: the pills, an empty bowl, and a razor. Each object had been used by his loved ones to end their own lives. In a world where, as Mr. Neale put it, we need more hope, it’s crucial to remember those who have lost theirs. He ended the performance with an attempt to fly, and you can guess how that went.
It was a strong and passionate performance that makes you think long after the theater empties. Mr. Neale discusses the uncomfortable topics that people are too afraid to speak up about, to avoid rejection thrown at them for thinking outside the norm. It is three days later, and I am still thinking about how he stood there and demonstrated how one would commit suicide using a razor. Someone must ask the questions and say enough is enough, and that is what Mr. Neale did in “Chaos Theory.”
Written and Performed by Randy Neale
October 2nd 2019, 3:30 PM
Photo credit: courtesy of the production
2019 United Solo Theater Festival
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
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DANIELLE CREAN is an aspiring writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College with a degree in Communication Arts and Journalism. During her college career she was a writer and editor-in-chief for the Odyssey Online. She is also currently writing a novel based on her own personal experiences with mental health.