Reviewers Rave about THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago:
Reviewed by Chris Jones
October 6, 2009
"Brainy Slam! 'Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity' Pairs Potent Issues With A Stomp On The Head
The juicy, knockout new play at Victory Gardens is at once a visceral take-down of the way American marketers manipulate our jingoistic tendencies, a hilariously savvy exploration of racial and class-based stereotyping, and a full-on, body-slamming theatrical wrestling match ...
It is the only play I’ve ever seen that could simultaneously appeal to fans of the World Wide Wrestling Federation and intellectual progressives (not that those groups are mutually exclusive). Heck, this killer show ... will appeal to anyone who thinks that theatrical food for thought is always best dispensed with a good, swift kick to the head. ...
Why risk such bodily harm?
It’s mostly the sophistication of the Minneapolis-based Diaz’s writing, which uses the wrestling world not so much as the usual tired metaphor for American excess, but as a study of the limits and possibilities of our new era of global interdependency.
... [a] must-see show ... But here’s the thing: This isn’t a liberal polemic. These wrestlers are smart cookies and practical men. You sense Diaz’s admiration for the sport, and his understanding of how we all compromise to please our bosses. He pokes fun at wrestling’s history of reliance on ethnic stereotypes, sure, but he also makes the point that wrestlers know they’re playing with fiction ... [CHAD DEITY is] funny, irreverent and viscerally exciting. ... consistently, very, very funny, setting up stereotypes only to kick them to the floor. ... "
Reviewed by Hedy Weiss
October 7, 2009
"Blue-Collar Absurdist Art Is Killer Stage Fare
Wrestling tale tags off with global issues
I was hooked from the word go on "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity," Kristoffer Diaz's big, brash, outrageous, brilliantly written, astonishingly realized, altogether electric (and sure-to-be-controversial) play about wrestling, terrorism, globalization (and more) that received a knockout world premiere Monday on the Victory Gardens mainstage. ...
Wrestling was a class thing then (a friend dubbed it "blue-collar performance art"). And it remains so in Diaz's remarkable gonzo circus of a play. But in piling on the layers of rage, resentment, fear, stereotyping, pop theatricality and metaphor making involved in the business and spectacle of it all, he has turned it into something far greater. Think talk radio extremity with fight club arena intensity. ... "
Time Out Chicago
Reviewed by October 15–21, 2009
"The Elaborate Entrance Of Chad Deity
Diaz’s exhilarating new play embraces the shameless fakery of the alleged sport of pro wrestling to illuminate, in comic but relentless tones, the more pernicious falsities of race, nation and empire. ...
In his first full-fledged production, Brooklyn-based Diaz combines mad inventiveness with a nervy taste for button-pushing. He’s also created a deeply affecting central character; Mace, who narrates the play, is wrestling’s answer to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Rattling off his encyclopedic pop-culture knowledge, stepping out of the frame to offer footnotes on the action or lyrically and rhythmically ruminating on his past and present, Mace comes to dazzling life ...
Chad Deity establishes the young writer as a major theatrical force ... "
Reviewed by Nina Metz
October 6, 2009
"The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity/Victory Gardens Theater
Professional wrestling is theater—a label I’m sure its many adherents would dismiss—but playwright Kristoffer Diaz has singled out this quality amidst the pomp and brawn and exuberantly insane energy and wrassled it to the mat. ...
Cast member Usman Ally says ... in his blog: “Subscribers better hold onto their oxygen tanks and their hearing aids, and everyone else better hold onto their asses!” No kidding.
... The play has the bones of a storefront show, ... but [director Edward] Torres has found a way to retain the play’s smart-alecky, big thumping heart within the flash and outrageousness of its staging.
What you get is a vivid world fueled by hip-hop and a slap of testosterone. Smart and comically astute, the play tackles everything from racial stereotypes to the business of show—tossing off blatantly offensive clichés, and then allowing its lead character to call them out with a simple, “Really?” (The play is getting a slew of productions, by the way—it opens in Philly later this month and in Minneapolis in the spring.)
... The play is incredibly well-written ...
When does the artifice become real? That’s a nice metaphoric theme for Mace to chew over, but Diaz knows he has to bring it where wrestling is concerned, and there is actual hand-to-hand combat ... so worth it."
Reviewed by Catey Sullivan
October 14, 2009
“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
... The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is a knock-out victory of equal parts brains and brawn.
Power-bombs (wherein one’s spine hits the floor at a velocity surely spines were not intended to withstand) and lightning-quick roundhouses aside, Diaz’ ground (and bone) breaking take on the world of professional wrestling isn’t rooted in violence for the sake of shock, although it’s plenty violent and often shocking. It doesn’t traffic in the pandering stereotypes that fuel the WWE, although it uses those stereotypes point out their ridiculousness. This is a tale of race, racism and all-American boys grasping at the shiny, illusive brass ring of the All American Dream. It unfolds in hip-hop rhythms and is infused with some of the most politically incorrect language you’ll hear outside a meeting of the Alabama Chapter of the John Birch Society.
... the real hero of Chad Deity is Macedonia Guerra ... aka The Mace. Macedonia’s job is to make the likes of Chad Deity look good. Stars like Chad Deity can’t exist without people like the Mace willing to act like they’ve lost every bout. ... a wholly endearing mix of self-deprecation and fierce pride. He knows he’s far more intelligent than his boss will ever be. He also knows that all his innate intelligence isn’t worth a slap in a world that prefers its villains and heroes in simple, black and white terms. ...
For Macedonia, a way up in the wrestling world presents itself in Vigneshwar Padujar ... a multi-lingual Brooklyn-born Indian kid who is, no matter where he goes, “the most amazing thing in the room.” Charisma might owe Chad Deity money, but VP owns the entire fricking bank. ... and so begins the career of Chad Deity’s next enemy. [Wrestling boss Everett K. Olsen], in a move so awful it’s hilarious, has VP hit the ring as The Fundamentalist, a “Moslem” who enters flanked by women in burkas and praising Allah. In the lead up to a pay-per-view bout with Chad, the Fundamentalist beats up guys with names like Billy America ... and The Patriot ... . The fights manage to be both a tragic commentary on ugly Americans like E.K. and a wildly amusing mockery of them.
As animosity in the ring starts bleeding into real life, the dynamic between wrestlers becomes ever more complicated. As Macedonia worriedly notes, without community among in-ring enemies, wrestling gets dangerous. So as Chad and VP come to despise each other for real, the looming bout between them become fraught with the possibility of unscripted danger.
By having greased up, impossibly muscle-y men tear through the audience waving flags and shouting threats, Chad Deity manages to instigate the kind of audience participation you’d find at ringside at a Vegas championship bout. It’s wildly fun, wickedly funny and deeply provocative. In the so-called fake world of professional wrestling, Diaz captures profundity, adventure, aspirations and true triumph. The result is a theatrical prize. "
Reviewed by Alan Bresloff
"The Elaborate Entry of Chad Deity
Is wrestling an art form, a sporting event or theater? These are some of the questions posed in Kristoffer Diaz's marvelous new play "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" now on the main stage at Victory Gardens Theater. ... What an evening of theater! Yes, this is unlike what most audiences anticipate, but let's face it, wrestling is theater of the absurd. ...
"Chad Deity" is more than just a comic spoof of the craziness that wrestling brings to the public. It is also a look at the racial stereotypes that we seem to have about the sport. And through its fun-filled hop-hop charisma, we learn more about what it is that makes people want more. The story also involves some fears that people have about the unknown. Diaz, it turns out grew up watching wrestling on TV and from his youthful memories, he has drawn characters that could easily have been the real thing. ...
What takes place is not what we all expected and there is a little surprise at the end. In reality, the last line (which I cannot divulge, as it would ruin the ending) is quite powerful and cause to make you really think about what you just experienced. ..."