With “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity,” Kristoffer Diaz seems to have invented a brash new theatrical form that might be called “wrestler rap.” Designed for serious fun, this terrifically kinetic show sends up the flamboyant absurdities of TV’s wrestling world while making shrewd use of its scripted rituals to deliver an instructive parable about the way that codified ethnic stereotyping destroys true friendship among men. Helmed by and outfitted with key players from the premiere production at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater, offbeat show could take this town. If this doesn’t get the guys into the theater, there is no Deity.
If you asked Jesse Klug, he’d probably say it was all about the lighting design, which fills the stage with stacked-up and criss-crossed racks of industrial lights strong enough to land a jet plane. But somewhere in all that amazing metal gridwork is a functional wrestling ring and two giant screens reflecting the stage action as it might look on TV in some techno-freak’s basement man-room.
The story that drives this action begins in the Bronx, where the rapping narrator, a sweet Puerto Rican nebbish named Macedonio Guerra, aka Mace (the sensational Desmin Borges), declares his lifelong devotion to the bogus art of professional wrestling. But despite his natural skills, this ace journeyman is doomed to make dancing, prancing crowd-pleasers like Chad Deity (divine, indeed, as played by Terence Archie) look good.
Switching to Brooklyn, the narrative captures Mace’s joy when he meets Vigneshwar Paduar, aka VP (Usman Ally, also sensational), an Indian street rapper whose gifted mouth and charismatic style could make him a star. Once Mace takes VP in hand, teaching him basic wrestling moves and pitching him to Everett K. Olson (Michael T. Weiss, greasier than an oil slick), the brash promoter of a hilariously over-the-top show called “THE Wrestling,” the boys quickly bond as buddies.
But this friendship is doomed, once Olson chains them to the stereotyped “frightener” personas he dreams up for them — a bloodthirsty Mexican bandito for Mace and a scowling Muslim terrorist for VP. While the accommodating Mace adjusts to the humiliation, VP rebels, undermining his chance at greatness by making an enemy of the divine Chad Deity.
Even as this tragic backstage drama is unfolding, the wrestling matches continue, in all their preposterous comic glory. Archie’s Chad Deity seriously challenges the Rock for Most Gorgeous Man Alive, while Christian Litke, a professional stuntman as well as a hunk of an actor, channels every “Ultimate” showboater you’ve ever watched on WWE.
And those famous entrances — hilariously staged triumphal displays that play right to the audience — are worth the price of admission on their own.