archive
links
essays

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

Professional wrestling—not to be confused with Greco-Roman wrestling, where technique and training are related to success—serves as a metaphor for U.S. culture in the regional premiere of Kristoffer Diaz' The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, now running at Curious Theatre Company.

Patrick Byas as Chad Deity
Patrick Byas as Chad Deity
Photo: Michael Ensminger
Given the demographics of the professional wrestling television audience (it's principle target is 18 to 34-year old males), it's no wonder that the ratings wars for advertising dollars have driven an increasing amount of violent and sexually explicit material into the storylines for this cheap amusement posing as a sport.

It's also no coincidence that such "sports," like the gladiators of ancient Rome, go hand-in-hand with a culture that is the engine for world domination, via military, technological, and economic power.

Appealing to the lowest common denominators of hatred, greed, and power, professional wrestling recruits viewers just as the military recruits cannon fodder, by creating easy to define enemies and stereotypes that can be villified and, eventually, attacked and subdued—all for profit, of course, which is the bottom line for those pulling the strings.

Poverty-striken neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries make for fertile recruting ground, so deteriorating conditions are a planned by-product of monetary policy, almost all of which, worldwide, is controlled by private banks.

The three-ring circus that serves as the propaganda hub and war zone for this satire is a TV studio; but then, war is increasingly presented on televisions, consoles, and mobile devices as a game these days. How else to lure human beings into serving as commodities in the profiteering business?

Michael Lopez as Mace and Bruce Rogers as The Bad Guy
Michael Lopez as Mace
and Bruce Rogers as The Bad Guy
Photo: Michael Ensminger
The contestants in this war game—Chad Deity (Patrick Byas), Mace (Michael Lopez), the Bad Guy (Bruce Rogers), VP (Akshay Kapoor), and a couple of journeymen grapplers (Ronin and Brian K. Nelson)—enter the arena through gates in a chain-link fence. The bass beat is booming as EKO (William Hahn), the owner of THE Wrestling and the MC of the live show, enters the ring and pushes all the emotional buttons cranked to fever pitch by the agit-prop run up to these stereotypical grudge matches.

So, it's no surprise that the title character, Chad Diety, the current world champion of THE Wrestling, walks, talks, and is bedecked in bling like a rapper, and that the dialogue spits forth in the staccato rhythms of rap music, the genre in which the overture, entr'acte, and segues are tracked.

For those of us that haven't paid attention to the evolution of trash TV in the last 50 years or so, it appears nothing much has changed, except in this story there are outsiders. Mace, who narrates, is an aficionado of the refinements of this proletarian genre, it's "art" so to speak. He details the quality points of the best action figures and patiently explains how the most skilled performers, including him, are the guys that make the "stars" look good.

(Left to right) Michael Lopez as the revolutionary and Akshay Kapoor as the fundamentalist
(Left to right) Michael Lopez as the revolutionary
and Akshay Kapoor as the fundamentalist
Photo: Michael Ensminger
Lopez has a fun time with this, breaking the fourth wall and bantering with the audience, upon whose feedback and involvement the piece is largely dependent. Free shots of tequila, at intermission, are provided to lubricate the feedback loop and importune the atmospherics of a Bronx crowd.

Byas is one buff dude, with the swagger and stare of a champ, who deftly handles the requisite obliviousness of his character to his own wanton self aggrandizement.

Hahn plays the ringmaster with aplomb, framing the battles, arbitrating and determining the outcome of the strategy sessions and, ultimately, distributing the profits, all the while maintaining a palpable malevolence.

Kapoor revels as the wildcard, dead set on throwing a wrench in the works.

Bill Hahn as EKO
Bill Hahn as EKO
Photo: Michael Ensminger
Whatever we may think of professional wrestling, we would expect general agreement that it is not a subtle pasttime, which limits its use as a metaphor, particularly as a means of analyzing U.S. culture. The crass worldview and bigotry portrayed by the characters, which serves as red meat for the unseen, brainwashed TV audience carnivores, is hardly a revelation.

In search of a protagonist with whom we might identify to serve as a vehicle for a catharsis, we are left bereft, try as Mace might to convince us he's worthy. The one-line comment from VJ's unseen girlfriend, the subject of a short monologue in the final scene, would make this a cautionary tale, if the play were being produced for audiences that take professional wrestling seriously or, worse yet, support it and know better—but it is too little, too late, to mean much to a theatre-going demographic, which in all likelihood arrived at the punchline an hour earlier.

Curious Theatre Company's presentation of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity runs through October 13th. For more information: 303-623-0524 or www.curioustheatre.org..

Bob Bows

 

Current Reviews | Home | Webmaster