We gave it an A-
Even if you think there’s nothing entertaining about the WWE, it’s impossible not to be swept up in the recent Pulitzer finalist The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Kristoffer Diaz’s ode to headlocks, elbow drops, men in tights, scripted matches with predetermined winners, headline-grabbing characters, and all the other hilarious absurdities of professional wrestling.
Diaz is an admitted wrestle-maniac, as is his loquacious, streetwise narrator, Macedonio Guerra, a.k.a. the Mace (played by the affable Desmin Borges). The slightly pudgy, hangdog-faced Mace is an underpaid, unsung competitor for THE Wrestling (read: WWE). He’s ”one of the really f—ing good THE wrestlers,” he tells us. ”The guy who loses to make the winners look good.” Enter the overly oiled, excessively muscled, extremely charismatic but astonishingly empty-headed THE champ Chad Deity (Terence Archie), whose supreme ego is outstripped only by his glaring lack of talent. ”In wrestling, you can’t kick a guy’s ass without the help of the guy whose ass you’re kicking,” Chad Deity explains. And Mace has gotten his ass kicked many, many times by Chad Deity, as evidenced by several — ouch! — limb-popping videos. (Those sequences, plus the clever assorted MTV-style montages accompanying each wrestler’s arrival, are courtesy of @radical.media.)
Though we do get to see a few body-slamming moves, most of the action takes place outside the ring, as THE honcho Everett K. Olson (Michael T. Weiss) transforms a basketball-playing motormouthed Indian Brooklynite named Vigneshwar Paduar (Usman Ally) into a cave-dwelling, turbaned militant Muslim dubbed the Fundamentalist. And since Mace discovered this new THE star/publicity stunt, he becomes the Fundamentalist’s manager/sidekick, ”Che Chavez Castro, Mexican revolutionary and denouncer of all things American” — complete with Cuban cigar, sombrero, and bongos. (Mace, it should be said, is a Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx.) Diaz’s knowledge of and passion for the ”sport” is infectious, and director Edward Torres’ hip-hop-infused production is appropriately muscular and high-energy. Words of warning: Keep your feet out of the aisles, lest you trip an actor during an ”elaborate entrance.” Also, one lucky front-row dweller will probably get bench-pressed. The show sags when Mace steps into the ring, but otherwise, this is one powerbomb of a play. A-
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