Randy Ross went on a four-month solo trip around the world. He traveled to Venezuela, Greece, and South Africa, to Thailand and Australia. And he had a “rotten, miserable, horrible time.”
“Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, a trip around the world, it’s going to be fun and exciting,’ and that kind of thing, but four months of solo travel, I think you don’t know whether you’re configured to do this until you actually do it,” he says.
Ross is a writer, and embarked on the trip in 2007 after being laid off from his magazine job. He put his writing skills to use on his terrible trip, drumming up 150 pages of “kvetching” blog posts.
Inspired by the success of “Eat, Pray, Love”—although he promises that the stories have nothing in common—Ross turned the blog posts into a travel memoir with help from many GrubStreet writing classes.
Thanks to the advice of various literary agents, the work transformed from a travel memoir to a regular memoir to a novel. “God Bless Cambodia” was published in 2017, detailing character Randall Burns’s miserable trip around the world in search of love.
Looking to build an audience, Ross adapted the novel into a one-man show, “The Chronic Single’s Handbook,” which he says is filled with “raunchy” humor. A written description of the show promises “An unflinching look at how men feel about sex, love, marriage, and massage parlors.”
He’s performed the play at fringe theater festivals in several countries, but the chance to be highlighted as a Boston experience on Airbnb inspired him to run the play out of his Somerville apartment.
Ross worked with his theater director to adapt the play to his apartment. The stage is roughly five feet by three feet, and the audience is just a few feet in front of him when he performs. Up to 10 people can crowd into the apartment for the show, settling into Ross’s couch, bench, or chairs.
“The Chronic Single’s Handbook” is closest to the original travel memoir, Ross says, and has a different ending from “God Bless Cambodia.”
The intimacy of the apartment setting, apart from pushing Ross to work on his “acting chops,” also lends itself to audience engagement. Ross saves time after the one-hour show for a discussion with his guests, and has offered to take visitors out for a drink after the show.
“The Chronic Single’s Handbook” is running on many Thursdays and Saturdays through the fall. For dates, times, and tickets, visit the Airbnb listing. Tickets are $20.