On “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”

October 19, 2009


Last week, I got a chance to check out “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”, the new play about pro-wrestling @ The Victory Gardens Theatre @ The Biograph.

I have to admit, this was a very interesting show. Firstly, even the idea of a major theatre company producing a work dedicated solely to the concept of the backstage workings of wrasslin’ is pretty mindblowing. The play centers around a fictional wrestling company and their stars, including the exceptionally Rock-esque title character, Chad Deity. Two up-and-comers, one Puerto Rican, one Indian, are cast as stereotypical villians to counteract the all-American image of superstar Deity. Heavily satirical, the piece certainly understands this particular world, and the production value and set pieces, as well as the show’s physicality, do an excellent job of recreating the look and feel of televised pro-wrestling.

Direct Link to Youtube Video

When the play works, which is surpringly often, it serves as a biting commentary on this particular microcosm, especially in regards to issues of race, on this and a larger American and world scale.  The writer, Kristoffer Diaz, is obviously well-versed in the world of sports entertainment and some of the terminology and references reward only the most knowledgeable fan. The fact that the piece not only won a major grant, but is currently being shown @ one of the most respected playhouses in Chicago, (as well as the recent success of The Wrestler), suggest perhaps pro wrestling is slowly being accepted as grounds for actual, intelligent character studies. The actors are all well-cast, with the lead role of Deity  played with the panache (and physique) of an actual pro-wrestler, and the show does actually raise some very important points.

It does however, also raise some interesting questions. For one, who is this play actually for? Those who like pro wrestling enough to fully understand every reference probably would not be interested in going to this show, especially when they can just watch actual wrestling. And for those theater buffs, will they really be willing to sit through a show about something as common as wrestling? Perhaps this is another larger commentary on stereotypes raised by the play. Maybe I shouldn’t pigeon hole who would or wouldn’t like this show.

But that raises another question: in a show funded by a grant for diversity, about stereotypes in pro-wrestling, why are there no women cast? Let me repeat that: How can you create a show commenting on stereotypes in pro-wrestling and not have any women in it? And how can you produce a play focusing on diversity when you have an all-male cast? Regardless of these obvious shortcomings, this is a show to see, even though it does occasionally fall into “attention everyone, I am an actor in a play” mode.

It’s worth checking out merely for the fact that something as Nerdy as pro-wrestling has leaked in to mainstream live theatre, and for the moments that really do work. This is also the perfect show to see if you are a student who needs to write a paper about the “theater”, because the subject matter and tone make it a lot easier to sit through then “The Crucible” or some shit like that.

Get your tickets to “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” (which runs until Nov. 1) here

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