Continuing with my blog series and review of Actors Theatre of Louisville ’s 2011-12 series of plays, Mom and I recently saw the fourth play in our seven-play season subscription, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, directed by KJ Sanchez. KJ Sanchez also directed Actors Theatre's production of ReEntry.
Again, I’m not an avid theater-goer and I don't pretend to know the intricacies of the theater, but I know what I like, so I will simply relate what Mom and I thought of the performance.
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is basically a morality play with a strong dash of politics. It tells the story of a skilled professional wrestler whose role it is to make the other not-so-skilled wrestlers look like winners. It gives a behind-the-scenes look at the theatrics of professional wrestling and the scripted story lines created to give the fans what they want. In wrestling, there is always a defined bad guy and good guy. When the stereotypes of the wrestling personas and their wrestling storylines are taken too far, will these real men choose to stand up for their beliefs or continue to play a character?
Macedonio "The Mace" Guerra, played by Alex Hernandez, a member of the 2010/2011 Actors Theatre Acting Apprentice Company, is a professional wrestler who begins the story by describing his poor upbringing in Brooklyn, New York where he watched pro-wrestling on Saturday mornings with his brothers. He describes the wrestling figures they would play with--his brothers choosing the larger, hard, sculpted dolls with permanent poses, while he chose the smaller, posable dolls he could use to recreate real wrestling positions. This brief flashback to his childhood love is enough to tell the audience that The Mace is exactly where he wants to be in his life, even if his role as a professional wrestler is to play second fiddle to second-rate wrestlers that the wrestling federation and his boss have dubbed the stars of the show. Enter, elaborately, Chad Deity, played by Kamal Angelo Bolden.
The intimacy of the Bingham Theatre, and Chad Deity's elaborate entrance, quickly transforms the subdued theater audience into a raucous fight crowd. Well, not too raucous, as a visual observance of the crowd would put the median age at 55-60. However, the confetti and money raining down upon theater goers and Chad Deity's encouragement to draw hoots and hollers from the crowd, definitely got the crowd's interest and participation.
The Mace discovers a young Indian-American in his hometown of Brooklyn who is so engaging that The Mace recruits him to wrestling, regardless of the fact the guy has no wrestling skills and no physique. Vigneshwar Paduar, played by Ramiz Monsef, reminded me of one of the Beastie Boys, full of swagger and keen on the mic.
At this point, I'm thinking this is going to be really good. Prior to the performance, I read in the playbill the long list of awards the play had received and an interview with playwright Kristoffer Diaz. This play was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Drama and 2011 Village Voice Obie Awards for Best New American Play.
However, as the story went on, the politics and stereotypes intensified, as well as the cussing. I'm not a prude. I can handle a few f-bombs, but it got to the point where it felt like every other word was f-this or f-that, GD that. It's even more uncomfortable when I'm sitting next to my elderly mother and watching older patrons become squeamish. I noticed that a group of elderly people in the front row left at intermission and did not return. I'm not sure if it was the cussing or being too close to Chad Deity's bikinis.
Mom and I left the play in silence. We agreed that if this were on TV, we probably would have changed the channel. Mom even said she would have been happy to leave at intermission like the front row group. At this point in our season subscription, this is the play we've liked the least.
Of course, this is just our opinion. I would think that someone who enjoyed the theatrics of pro-wrestling would really like this play. It's well acted, well written, and well directed. Just not my cup of tea.
The performance runs through February 4, 2012. A trailer of the play can be seen in the video below. Ticketing information can be found on Actors Theatre’s website .