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New York Theater

The Chaos Theories

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It's the day after Halloween. Are all those miniature Three Musketeers bars sitting heavy on the tummy? Ah, junk food, that salve to the troubled soul, how we Americans do love you. Your calories are empty, but you taste good, you're easy to like, and that's more than can be said of a lot of things forced down our throats in the name of self-improvement. The Chaos Theories by Alexander Dinelaris slides down the gullet as easily and as addictively as a fresh Frito. Sadly for the playwright and his company, this mélange of skits posing as glimpses into human behavior is equally nutrition free.

Dinelaris' play, according to his program note, was written as a response to Sept. 11 and the observation that everyone was talking but nobody was listening. Happily, there's nothing in the play that evokes post-Sept. 11 malaise. New Yorkers are busy, self-involved, and interrupt one another? Only someone very young, or a tourist, would conceive of this as news.

21 characters, all stock types — the Senator, the Producer, the Actress, the Stockbroker — interact and converge around a restaurant's bar. Each scene plays comically thanks to Dinelaris' gift for punch lines, but few of the characters feel like human beings closely observed, and that includes the snarky waiter (Max Darwin) who offers deadpan ripostes with each drink. A bickering older married couple waiting for the arrival of their daughter do emerge as multidimensional, in part thanks to nuanced acting from Richard Bekins and Maryann Towne, but their story is interrupted by a pat reverse ending that lets us down. We're also treated to a haunting, haunted homeless person — the only kind dramatized these days, it seems — played by a long-suffering Alison Fraser. Nothing really surprises, because nothing really convinces, but it's fun to consume nonetheless.

Presented by Shotgun Productions in association with the Resistance Theatre Company and MILJam Productions

at the McGinn/Cazale Theater, 2162 Broadway, 4th floor, NYC.

Oct. 31-Nov. 17. Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.

(212) 352 3101 or (866) 811-4111 or www.theatermania.com.

Casting by Joan Lynn.

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