'The Elaborate Entrance of CHAD DEITY' at the Woolly Mammoth
In high school, my boyfriend, all his friends and I followed professional wrestling. We would gather weekly to watch The Rock crush all the other wrestlers on WWF. It was awesome and I can tell you with 100% certainty that none of us cared about the art of wrestling. We bonded over the personas of the wrestlers and enjoyed arguing about the drama. We fed off of the hype, the stereotypes, and all the things that Mace, the main character in ‘The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity’ struggles with while working for ‘THE Wrestling’ -- the play’s equivalent to the WWF.
Macedonio Guerra, aka ‘Mace’ is played by Jose Joaquin Perez. Mace is a passionate Puerto Rican with a satirical sense of humor who has a story to tell. He takes us back in time to 1986 in the Bronx and tells us how he developed a passion for the art and skill of wrestling as a sport. Now, as an adult he ironically works for ‘THE Wrestling’ a MEGA entertainment company that caters to a low brow sense of American amusement by bastardizing the sport of wrestling and American stereotypes.
Throughout the performance Mace is accompanied by projections and lights as he gives us the play-by-play of how ‘THE Wrestling’ makes a fortune by scripting the swaggering African American Chad Deity as ‘THE Champion Wrestler.’ Chad Deity is portrayed as an over-the-top character who has everything one needs to be a professional wrestler -- except for the talent to wrestle. Mace makes it clear through humorous monologues that it takes talent and teamwork to be a professional wrestling loser, and Chad Deity could not win without him.
Jose Joaquin Perez, Adi Hanash (photo by Stan Barouh)
Vigneshwar Paduar, VP for short, is played by Adi Hanash and is a friend of Mace’s brothers who know him from their local basketball court in Brooklyn. VP is a talented, larger than life, cool, cocky, educated, and a hip-hop-esque man’s man who charms audiences on and off the basketball court. Mace, upon meeting VP, has the brilliant idea to recruit him to join ‘THE Wrestling’ circuit and introduces him to Everett K. Olson, ‘EKO’ who is ‘THE Boss’ and played by Michael Russotto.
EKO is a smooth talking older white man with slicked back hair and the stench of a used car salesman. Mace and VP bond over desiring to create a more authentic wrestling character for VP to play on ‘THE Wrestling.’ They start to sell EKO on their idea. ‘THE Boss’ shakes his head and before you know it creates a character called ‘THE Fundamentalist’ loosely based on Muslim terrorists stereotypes for VP and a new character for Mace as well: ‘Che Chavez Castro’ a Mexican Revolutionary.
Michael Russotto, Jose Joaquin Perez, James Long (photo by Stan Barouh)
The satire continues after intermission with magnificent choreographed wrestling that takes place in a wrestling ring -- which is dramatically lowered into the middle of Woolly Mammoth theater at the very beginning of the second act. There are wrestling matches where VP as ‘THE Fundamentalist’ defeats ‘Billy Heartland’ from Hope Arkansas with one kick and subsequently defeats ‘Old Glory’ from Main Street, USA with the same one-kick stunt. Both pro wrestler ‘stars and stripes’ stereotype characters are played by James Long who contributes his slapstick comedic persona while wearing a speedo.
Initially VP goes along with the ‘THE Fundamentalist’ gig where Mace does ‘the heavy lifting’ as ‘Che Chavez Castro’ and ‘keeps his mouth shut to just makes it work’ but then... VP has enough. He says ‘f**k off’ to ‘THE Wrestling’ and go back to his basketball court in Brooklyn leaving Mace to fend for himself at THE Wrestling. What will Mace do? Will he finally give EKO and Chad Deity a piece of his mind? Will he ever get to tell his winning story?
Over all ‘The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity’ is unconventional theater at it’s best. It delivers an in your face smackdown of American racial biases leaving the viewer feeling playfully smacked in the face with questions about American society’s socio-economic values and culture while providing thoroughly fun-filled entertainment. Go see Chad Deity for yourself.
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