Theatre

Kristoffer Diaz’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” is getting a knock-out revival by Red Theater. Named for the colorfully staged, and bombastic entrances of professional wrestlers - with costumes, smoke, lights, confetti, and plenty of trash-talking put-downs of their rivals to rile up the audience - pro wrestling is really a natural event for the stage.

In this send-up of the seemingly testosterone-laden world of pro wrestlers – and a hilarious one at that - director Jeremy Aluma has also plumbed the depths of this play, lauded with an Obie and a Pulitzer finalist after its 2008 premier.

Our narrator and guide, Mace (Alejandro Tey), a young Puerto Rican man with a life-long love of wrestling – explains his career in that vital role as one of the class of professional losers, who are willingly vanquished so that the celebrated star wrestler – in this play Chad Deity – can be further elevated and celebrated. And the pay is good.

With amazing casting by Gage Wallace, the production puts the audience in the role of fans at the arena. Much as I resist such tropes (please, let me hide in my seat!), this production drew me in, then captured me – along with the rest of us watching at the StrawDog Theatre building.   

This was in part due to the charismatic and captivating performance of Alejandro Tey as Mace. He carries on for perhaps 45 minutes, relating his life story, teaching us the fine points of the profession, and explaining the symbiosis between the winner and loser. This almost mesmerizing performance is punctuated by demonstrations of wrestling technique.

But in very large measure Chad Deity succeeds on the seamless performances of the troupe – Mickey Sullivan is top drawer as Eko, the promoter; Will Snyder as The Bad Guy and as Fight Captain; and the night I saw it, Harsh Gagoomal as VP. Special kudos to Dave Honigman as the other Bad Guy and as an off-the-wall Referee who also performs janitorial duties and even wanders into the lobby during intermission. Chad Deity himself – Semaj Miller – tears up the in an over the top performance

Before seeing Chad Deity, I was quite blind to the team work and dynamic between winners and losers. My perception was the wrestling was clowning, not sport. In fact, the throws – and accompanying falls – require careful training. The troupe at Red Theater did its due diligence in learning these skills and clearly put in the hours on the wrestling mat.

The revival of this play is also timely. The panoply of villainous characters challenging Chad Diaz’s script highlights the American male heroes who vanquish the Bad Guys. The play – like real wrestling – trades on caricatures for the winners and designated losers alike. Over time, new models of trending bad guys are rolled out.

In Chad Deity, that new character is VJ, a motormouthed Pakistani who stands in for a variety of Middle Eastern villains. Mace adopts the role of his accomplice, playing a Mexican bandit. Let’s just say neither of them intend to pay for any frigging wall.

The plot may be overly burdened by one additional claim on it: Mace is really a great wrestler, and wants to win, rather than lose well. Just once he would like to take the winners belt. Mace and the play deserve this, but it does seem to slow the action at points.

The Red Theater creative team has converted the Strawdog Theatre space into a convincing live wrestling event. It was an absolute delight. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity plays through September 16, 2017 at 1802 W Berenice Ave, Chicago, IL 60613. It is highly, highly recommended.

Published in Theatre in Review

Red Theater Chicago announces the start of their 6th season with their upcoming production of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, directed by Jeremy Aluma. Performances run August 15 through September 16, 2017. Opening is Friday, August 18, 2017 at 8:00 PM at Strawdog Theatre, 1802 W Berenice Ave, Chicago, IL 60613.

THE PLAY
How does one pursue the “American Dream” in a country that refuses to offer opportunity indiscriminately? That is the question at the heart of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a flashy American satire set in the professional entertainment wrestling world. We follow Macedonio Guerra, an excellent Puerto Rican wrestler, as he rises from the bottom of the pecking order. In this interactive physical comedy, Mace talks directly to the audience as fans in his arena, drawing the viewer into the struggle, joy, and heart of the story. The play dissects race, xenophobia, ego, and our moral compass – topics even more relevant now than when it premiered eight years ago. Winner of the 2011 Obie Award for Best New American Play, a 2009 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, and the 2008 National Latino Playwriting Award.

CALENDAR LISTING
WHO: Red Theater Chicago
WHAT: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, directed by Jeremy Aluma.
WHERE: Strawdog Theatre, 1802 W Berenice Ave, Chicago, IL 60613
WHEN:
Friday, August 18 at 8pm 
Saturday, August 19 at 8pm 
Sunday, August 20 at 4pm 
Thursday, August 24 at 8pm
Friday, August 25 at 8pm
Saturday, August 26 at 8pm 
Sunday, August 27 at 4pm (touch tour)
Monday, August 28 at 8pm (captions)
Thursday, August 31 at 8pm (captions)
Friday, September 1 at 8pm
Saturday, September 2 at 8pm 
Sunday, September 3 at 4pm 
Thursday, September 7 at 8pm
Friday, September 8 at 8pm
Saturday, September 9 at 8pm 
Sunday, September 10 at 8pm (understudy show)
Thursday, September 14 at 8pm
Friday, September 15 at 8pm
Saturday, September 16 at 8pm (closing)

TICKETS: Tickets go on sale online July 24, 2017 at redtheater.org

TICKETS, DATES & INFORMATION
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 4:00 PM August 15, through September 16, 2017, with an additional Monday performance on August 28 with captions. Captions will also be provided on Thursday, August 31 at 8:00 PM. A touch tour will be offered on Sunday, August 27 at 4:00 PM. Tickets go on sale online July 24, 2017 at redtheater.org. **Previews are Tuesday, August 15 through Thursday, August 17 at 8:00 PM. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity will be performed at Strawdog Theatre’s new home at 1802 W Berenice Ave, Chicago, IL 60613. The theater is fully accessible and CTA accessible via the Irving Park Brown Line train or the #11 Lincoln bus.

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Red Theater Chicago announces the start of their 6th season with their upcoming production of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, directed by Jeremy Aluma. Performances run August 15 through September 16, 2017 at Strawdog Theatre, 1802 W Berenice Ave, Chicago, IL 60613.


THE PLAY
How does one pursue the “American Dream” in a country that refuses to offer opportunity indiscriminately? That is the question at the heart of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a flashy American satire set in the professional entertainment wrestling world. We follow Macedonio Guerra, an excellent Puerto Rican wrestler, as he rises from the bottom of the pecking order. In this interactive physical comedy, Mace talks directly to the audience as fans in his arena, drawing the viewer into the struggle, joy, and heart of the story. The play dissects race, xenophobia, ego, and our moral compass – topics even more relevant now than when it premiered eight years ago. Winner of the 2011 Obie Award for Best New American Play, a 2009 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, and the 2008 National Latino Playwriting Award.


CALENDAR LISTING
WHO: Red Theater Chicago
WHAT: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, directed by Jeremy Aluma.
WHERE: Strawdog Theatre, 1802 W Berenice Ave, Chicago, IL 60613
WHEN:
Friday, August 18 at 8pm (press opening)
Saturday, August 19 at 8pm 
Sunday, August 20 at 4pm 
Thursday, August 24 at 8pm
Friday, August 25 at 8pm
Saturday, August 26 at 8pm 
Sunday, August 27 at 4pm (touch tour)
Monday, August 28 at 8pm (captions)
Thursday, August 31 at 8pm (captions)
Friday, September 1 at 8pm
Saturday, September 2 at 8pm 
Sunday, September 3 at 4pm 
Thursday, September 7 at 8pm
Friday, September 8 at 8pm
Saturday, September 9 at 8pm 
Sunday, September 10 at 8pm (understudy show)
Thursday, September 14 at 8pm
Friday, September 15 at 8pm
Saturday, September 16 at 8pm (closing)


TICKETS: Tickets go on sale online July 24, 2017 at redtheater.org

TICKETS, DATES & INFORMATION
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 4:00 PM August 15, through September 16, 2017, with an additional Monday performance on August 28 with captions. Captions will also be provided on Thursday, August 31 at 8:00 PM. A touch tour will be offered on Sunday, August 27 at 4:00 PM. Tickets go on sale online July 24, 2017 at redtheater.org. **Previews are Tuesday, August 15 through Thursday, August 17 at 8:00 PM. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity will be performed at Strawdog Theatre’s new home at 1802 W Berenice Ave, Chicago, IL 60613. The theater is fully accessible and CTA accessible via the Irving Park Brown Line train or the #11 Lincoln bus.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

 

 

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