The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is one of the smartest, funniest shows of 2012. Broadly speaking, it uses professional wrestling as a device to speak to the sport, the structures that support it, race, money, American culture, and everything in between, including the merits of large solid-body action figures vs smaller ones with movable joints.
If you’re so high brow that mention of professional wrestling curdles your half and half, rest assured that this show is more like Max Weber coming back to life, taking on a second career in standup, and deconstructing the sport. It’s the missing chapter from Weber’s classic Economics and Society, updated through a highly warped filter.
Self-styled professional fighter and perennial loser Macedonio Guerra (aka “the Mace”) provides the non-stop hip-hop patter that illuminates the sport. Who knew that the true artists of this form are the losers who make it easy for the big names to win? Watching him illustrate a signature move by running into the arms of his hulking opponent with enough loft and momentum for the opponent to slam him down by merely bending over, the sport becomes a demented pas de deux.
While demonstrating these moves, Guerra (Tony Sancho) explains the audience loves “the implausibility of it. They know somehow it takes two people to pull that beautiful bullshit off, and they love that it takes two people to pull it off… that art is powerful and beautiful and, like I said, one of those most profound expressions of the ideals of this damn nation.”
For all his technical skills, Guerra exercises the silent acquiescence of one whose job “is to make the other guy not suck.” In this case, the “other guy” is Chad Deity (Beethoven Oden), who has the cool of Shaft, the wealth of Puff Daddy, and the intellect of a highly evolved gnat.
The balance shifts when Vigneshwar Paduar (Nassar Khan) faces Deity in the ring. Playing off of every stereotype imaginable, the Puerto Rican Guerra becomes a cross between the Frito bandito and Fidel Castro, while the Indian Paduar becomes transmogrified into a reincarnation of Osama bin Laden.
This Aurora Theatre Bay Area premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity put playwright Kristoffer Diaz on my list of people to follow. If this play is any indication, Obie winner and Pulitzer nominee Diaz is writing plays that stand the art form as much on its head as this work does for professional wrestling.