The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
"The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety" is a show whose title describes exactly and not at all what it is about. This is about the pomp and circumstance that surrounds "wrestler extraordinaire" Chad Diety as he enters the ring.
Why the quotes around wrestler extraordinaire? Because when it comes to wrestling, he is hardly a wrestler and not at all extraordinary. And that is where the audience begins to see how this show is and is not about wrestling.
In this show, the phenom of entertainment wrestling is a metaphor for the world and for our lives in it, all about elaborate entrances of constructed personas, as we ignore and excuse reality and the actual lives of the people living in that reality. This is an extremely funny show about an anything but funny subject.
Interestingly, there is very little actual wrestling action in the show. The majority of the "action" is narration by the brilliant Alex Hernandez, in the role of Macedonia Guerra, is one of the most remarkable performers I've had the pleasure to watch. The entire cast is brilliant. But the mark of an accomplished actor is making the audience believe that there is no acting involved. When it comes to Hernandez, mission accomplished.
The cast is as powerful as it is small. Kieran Connolly plays Everett K. Olson, the seedy head of the fictitious professional wrestling company "The Wrestling, as well as the Ring Announcer with perfect sleaze, just as Corey Jones plays Chad Diety with perfect self-puffery.
Aly Mawji is equal parts hilarious and heart breaking; goofy and intelligent; and jokey and profound as Vigneshwar Paduar. From his facial expressions to his body language to his line delivery, he is spot on and a thrill to watch. Jamin Olivencia rounds out the cast, impeccably playing The Bad Guy, Billy Heartland and Old Glory.
Even though there are only five of them, the cast seems much larger, thanks in part to the clips played on massive video screens throughout. That brings me to another key to this show's success: the production team.
The set, by Takeshi Kata, is a wrestling ring set in the middle of the theater. At one end, the audience sits in bleachers that actually part like the sea in order to allow the title character to enter-a fabulous effect. Clint Ramos' costumes are both funny and true, pointing to the ridiculousness of the "sport" of professional wrestling.
The rest of the standing ovation-worthy team led by Director Jamie Castañeda includes Lap Chi Chu on Lighting Design; Mikhail Fiksel on Sound Design; Peter Nigrini on Projection Design; Christian Litke on Fight Direction; and Jamin Olivencia on Fight Choreography.
I have nothing but praise for the sharp direction of Jamie Castañeda. But I do think that the script, written by Kristoffer Diaz, would benefit from some additional editing. It tends to be redundant in a number of places. And, in others, it is difficult to understand the point being made or other story being told.
It is possible that the issue was with actors dropping or scrambling lines. But assuming the delivery was accurate, which I would put my money on, the script requires some revisiting.
This is the story of a young man (Guerra) who dreams of becoming a wrestler, only to discover what that means: the stereotypes brought to life, the lack of any reality, the wrong people invoking cheers and the wrong people invoking jeers, the following of a script that is not your own nor would you ever approve, the money that rules the day.
As the story unfolds, we hear Guerra explain what brought him to wrestling and we see his love of the sport in its purest form. We also see him bring a new wrestler/performer into the fold, Paduar, to surprising results. And, in the end, we see revelation, both Guerra's and, hopefully, our own. It is a revelation of the falsity we tolerate and the reality we ignore.
This is a show to see. It is fun and poignant. It is silly and heart breaking. It is a show about wrestling and it isn't. One thing is for sure -- it's an evening you won't forget.
"The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety" runs through Nov. 11 at the Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St. in Dallas. For info or tickets, call 214-954-9925 or visit http://www.dallastheatercenter.org.