By Kristoffer Diaz
Directed by Edward Torres
At Victory Gardens Biograph Theatre
Foul-mouthed hip-hop show about fraudulent practices in the wacky world of professional wrestling body slams us
I can’t think of two more vile elements than hip-hop language and wrestling that I’d hoped to never see in a play but I did see both used to dramatize the racial stereotypes and basic fears of Americans. So my review of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is colored by my distaste of both. Since the audience seemed to embrace this show, let me turn into a reporter.
Chad Deity takes time to evolve as Macedonio Guerra (Desmin Borges) opens the show with an ‘elaborate entrance’ complete in tights and a mask. Over the next 15 minutes we hear a blend of his life story and the history of modern pro wrestling complete with most of the fraudulent practices, manipulations, and archetypes. This foul-mouthed hip-hop styled narrative was offensive and came across as a dumbing-down of the language and cultures. Borges does deliver his story with humor, irony and a high-octane flair. It’s the overuse of the F-word among others that becomes redundant.
The story is a cartoon-like fable of the over-hyped world of phony wrestling that degrades that sport turning it into a circus of ugly characters. We meet the egotistical Chad Deity (Kamal Angelo Bolden)–the current champ as he body slams Guerra every week. The two seem dedicated to respect the traditions and practices of rigged sport. Ha? The satire is done with immense over kill as playwright Kristoffer Diaz pushes things when Guerra discovers a most charismatic hip-hop Brooklyn kid of Indian (think India) decent.
Vigneshwar Paduar (Usman Ally) and the manager, EKO (James Krag) together with Guerra discover their ticket to the big-time of pay-per-view TV as the two become terrorists–Guerra as a Mexican terrorist and Paduar as a Fundamentalist terrorist. Only Chad Deity’s ego suffers as the terrorists become huge. Diaz’s script could use a 20 minute trim cutting much of the narrative and some of the fight scenes.
Fans of hip-hop, wrestling and physical satire may enjoy this show more than I did. The set (Brian Sidney Bembridge) features a large wrestling ring and the smashing lighting (by Jesse Klug) together with the vivid costumes (by Christine Pascual) make the production values strong, even outrageous. If you dig hip-hop language and love wrestling on TV, then this show is for you. Chad Deity is funny, crude, and flamboyant as it mocks the phony world of professional wrestling that so many American embrace as entertainment. What does that say about us?
At Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL, call 773-871-3000, tickets $20 – $48, Tuesdays thru Thursdays at 7:30, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 5 & 8:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, special Wednesday matinees at 2 pm (Oct 21 & 28), running time is 2 hours with intermission.