The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

by Robert Bullen

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday October 21, 2009

Desmin Borges is Macedonio Guerra in the world premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz
Desmin Borges is Macedonio Guerra in the world premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz  

Who'd have thought wrestling would make an arresting topic for a two-act play? My tolerance for WWE is around 10 minutes, before all the noise, yelling and dramatic pratfalls overwhelm the senses. But Kristoffer Diaz's hilariously satirical new play, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, finds a compelling metaphor in wrestling, featuring an inner world of capitalism, pseudo-celebrity, and racism in American pop culture. Equal parts action, humor, entertainment and passion, this show is a winner.

Our guide into the world of professional wrestling, here symbolized by the fictional "T.H.E. Wresting Organization," is Macedonio Guerra, aka "The Mace," played by the immensely likable Desmin Borges. With his rap-like delivery and palpable passion for the art, we begin to understand the various skills and tricks that work in concert to create an engaging wrestling match.

Guerra explains that it's often the poor sap who gets body-slammed that bears the lion's share of the work. It takes skill and precision to ensure that you not only don't get hurt, but that your fall is convincing enough to make the "good guy" look good.

In short, as Diaz writes in his notes: In wrestling, you can't kick a guy's ass without the help of the guy whose ass you're kicking.

And Guerra knows this, because he's the poor sap who gets tossed around to maintain the reputation of the reigning T.H.E. Wrestling Champ: Chad Diety. (Who, in fact, does have an elaborate introduction, complete with personalized million dollar bills. And, as played by the baby-faced Kamal Angelo Bolden, Deity revels in his carefully orchestrated fame.) To get paid to lose is a thankless job, but Guerra wears the badge with honor.

However, the tables are turned when Guerra discovers that his trash-talking, India-born friend, Vigneshwar Paduar (the lithe and sly Usman Ally), might make a compelling match for Deity. His hunch is right, as Guerra's money-mongering manager (James Krag) takes one look at V.P. and sets to transforming Paduar and Guerra into a new generation of T.H.E. Wrestling bad guys: Terrorists. V.P. is "The Fundamentalist" - a turban-wearing foreigner whose secret move is the "Koran Kick" - and Guerra, who's actually of Puerto Rican descent, is cast as a sombrero-sporting Mexican. Their popularity as villains sky-rockets, and they soon find themselves promoting a Pay-Per-View match between The Fundamentalist and...Chad Deity.

Yes, the show is offensive - but it's also very, very funny, thanks in large part to Diaz's savvy, hip-hop infused script, which always seems to remain one step ahead of your expectations for what will happen next. Stereotypes are introduced and then smacked around, and director Edward Torres keeps the highly physical action front and center (and, at times, very much in your face). Brian Sidney Bembridge's vibrant set design, complete with dual video monitors and a functional wrestling ring, helps propel the outlandish lampoonery.

As things start spinning wildly out of control, it becomes clear that it's all too much for Guerra and V.P. - and even Deity starts to lose his cool - proving that there's really no such thing as a harmless stereotype.

Which leads to my only significant critique: This violent climax seems almost too abrupt - which might be intended. However, I think the show would benefit if Diaz would set things up earlier for this scene.

Oh, and if I haven't made it clear enough: go see this play. It's one of the most exciting new works to come along in years.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, produced by Victory Gardens in association with Teatro Vista, plays through November 1. Victory Gardens is located at 2433 N Lincoln Ave. For more information, visit: www.victorygardens.org

A native midwesterner, Robert is a self-confessed Chicago theatre addict. You can read more about his addiction at chitheatreaddict.com