When you walk in to a theater and see a wrestling ring, you know you’re in for a different kind of night at the theatre. I’m not, at heart, a wrestling fan, but that really didn’t matter. (If you’ve seen a WWE promo, you’ve seen enough to enjoy this show.) The show is part spectacle, part play with, well, elaborate entrances, wrestling moves and showy costumes.
But The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is more than just a gimmick. The 2008 National Latino Playwriting Award Winner, 2010 Pulitzer Prize Finalist and 2011 Obie Award Winner for Best New American Play packs a powerful punch combining comedy, drama and power bombs.
Director Kerry McGee serves up a well balanced production, giving equal attention to the inherent campiness of the story, the action, and the drama. Yeah, on the outside, it’s kinda about wrestling… but it’s also about geopolitics, race, and sacrifice. McGee gives just the right amount of attention to each, delivering a powerful message in an easy-to-swallow campy pill.
Axle Burtness is endearing as the underdog protagonist. He embodies the childlike qualities of the character well and kept his energy during long monologues, although I felt his pacing was a little off. Josh Martin is charming as wrestling superstar Chad Deity, adding depth to a seemingly one dimensional character. James Long in Starrene Foster’s costumes delivers perfect humor and physicality to his three roles.
Lighting by Geno Brantley is seamless; Edwin Slipek’s set design is simple but efficient.
For the wrestling fanatic (and not so fanatic), The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is worth a trip out in the snow. It will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter, cheering for the underdog and leave you with much to think about.
Make this a date night: strong language and themes not suitable for children.