For tens of thousands of years, man has tried to tell stories to each other in one way or another. It likely started with grunts and a form of caveman charades. But it grew to become art, oratory tales, music, television, and film. Mixed into all that is the stage, where people like Willy Shakespeare and Arthur Miller unleashed wonderful stories. At the heart of everything we do here at Monkeys Fighting Robots, whether it’s the latest Batman comic or Marvel movie, is a desire to tell stories.
All this brings me to The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a play written by Kristoffer Diaz circa 2009 that returns the theatrics of wrestling home to where those theatrics began — the theatre.
Life-long wrestling fan and pro wrestler Macedonio “Mace” Guerra (Pierre Jean Gonzalez) is a technically perfect athlete with zero charisma. Mace plays the role of a perennial loser in the ring. He’s the wrestler who makes the other wrestlers look good. Mace wrestles for the fictional THE Wrestling where the star of stars is Chad Deity (Garrett Turner). Deity is loaded with charisma and stage presence but lacking in wrestling skills.
Gonzalez does the “heavy lifting” in the ring to make his opponents look better than they are. But Gonzalez also does heavy lifting in the play, leading it from start to finish and spending very little time off stage. Gonzalez makes it look effortless, splendid stage acting that’s made all the more difficult when fighting, flying, and falling is also part of the show. Contrasting Gonzalez boyish enthusiasm for the sport is the outrageously magnetic Deity. Garrett’s work here reminded me of Jim Carrey in the 90s as Garrett uses an impossibly malleable face to puntuate some hilarious dialogue.
Mace’s story is so closely connected to anyone who’s ever done a job where there’s little appreciation. Mace makes the bad wrestlers look good. He also lives in a duality; Mace understands and, in fact, loves the nature of wrestling and how it’s greater than the sum of its parts. But, reality doesn’t appreciate the cog in the machine so-to-speak as much as it values what the machine produces and that’s money.
And let it be known, the audience will
experience the elaborate entrance of Chad Deity
towards the end of the first act.
Mace narrates the show as it introduces his passion for the squared-circle. Mace has been in love with wrestling since childhood, and now he gets to be a wrestler. He uses toys as a metaphor for comparing his skill to those of the popular wrestlers who are usually the worst wrestlers. Mace fails to provide the level of crowd control that the hyper-charismatic Chad Deity provides. And let it be known, the audience will experience the elaborate entrance of Chad Deity towards the end of the first act. It definitely lives up to the hype.
Todd Allen Durkin as Everett K. Olsen, is the head of THE Wrestling who is a typical semi-sleaze bag of over-the-top personality. Through Durkin’s money-grubbing smile is something to love. Mace brings a friend into the wrestling fold, an Indian from Brooklyn named Vigneshwar Paduar (Raji Ahsan), who is chock-full of street-smart charm. Paduar has what Mace lacks, but the fast-talking man doesn’t have the desire to wrestle and his short-lived career in the ring is riddled with terror and being forced to play a terrorist.
The Elaborate Entrance throws in some live wrestling action into the second act. The high-flying fun takes place in a ring like any other wrestling event. It’s choreographed here by Jamin Olivencia, a pro wrestler who also doubles as three wrestlers throughout the show. The action mixes up the usual pattern of a show; it also continues to push the story forward so that it creates the right blend of character and action.
The award-winning play isn’t merely about wrestling.
The unique part of theatre stems from its in-the-moment nature. From performance to performance, the words stay the same, but from show to show, things are just a little different than before. Each person that sees a show sees an almost entirely original version of the same story. I bring this up because The Colony theatre on Miami Beach and Asolo Repertory Theatre created a multimedia experience that mixes the precise acting and blocking of theatre with pre-recorded and live video. Scenes play out in a way that allows viewers to watch the action on the stage or see an alternate angle on the video screens.
The award-winning play isn’t merely about wrestling. Mace touches on that deep desire we all have to reach some greater dream. Also, slinking in and out of the story are issues that relate to politics, race relations, and stereotypes. Wrestling is notorious for using cartoonish cliches to the industry’s advantage. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is a wild wrestling show, with bombastic characters that serve a story with deeper layers. The entire show is a look inward at ourselves as individuals and a country. Do we face reality or escape permanently to false narratives?