Runs through 6.19.10
TBG Theatre, 312 West 36th Street
by Ben Charles on 5.27.10
BOTTOM LINE: A well-staged show about Indian American culture with a love story in there somewhere.
Chaos Theory centers on Mukesh and Sunita, two friends who challenge each other with Shakespearean quote games, and whose friendship lasts over 30 years. We see the evolution of their relationship as we cut in and out of different time periods that are significant to their lives. Unlike many stories about the relationship between a man and woman over such a long time period, the interesting thing here is that Mukesh and Sunita never become lovers. In fact, we see Sunita find love interest in Amit, a communist from Harvard. And it is fun to see Mukesh not necessarily take a liking to Amit as Amit romances Sunita.
I really liked the different scenes that are presented. They are playful and I could tell that Ranjit Chowdhry (Mukesh) and Rita Wolf (Sunita) enjoy playing off each other. Many of the scenes are fun and show the development of each character. Mukesh’s love of Shakepeare and Sunita’s Columbia University pride are just a few of the recurring themes that come up during these scenes.
However, I will say that I was a bit confused about the overall point of the show. Even though Mukesh and Sunita never become lovers, are we supposed to be involved in a love story between these two main characters? Is it a different kind of love? A platonic love? If there is any kind of love story at all, it never fully gells. That is, it never hit me what it is we are supposed to be invested in. Additionally, there aren’t any plot twists or other narrative devices that grabbed me as an audience member. Essentially, what is lacking in Chaos Theory for me is that the overall story arc is never extremely compelling. The scenes are entertaining, but I left a bit confused about what the show is ultimately about.
Chaos Theory comes from the Pulse Ensemble Theatre's Playwrights' Lab, so perhaps there is still time for this show to evolve. And I hope it does, because I feel that this play could use some fine tuning if it wants to draw a larger audience. However, if seeing Indian American culture on stage is interesting to you, definitely check out Chaos Theory.
(Chaos Theory plays at TBG Theatre, 312 West 36th Street, through June 19, 2010. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $25 and are available at smarttix.com. For more show info visit pulseensembletheatre.org.)