"The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" Review - Red Theater Chicago Shines Light on the Nature of Television Wrestling

“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” by Kristoffer Diaz, a 2010 Pulitzer finalist in drama, currently in production by Red Theater Chicago at Strawdog Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice, Chicago, through September 16, throws a one-two punch to the consciousness. It reveals the truth about scripted/staged American television wrestling both in terms of the “fake” nature of the fighting and in the choice of the way the “opponents” are marketed. The propagandistic stereotyping of the performer’s ethnic groups under the guise of American patriotism serves as a satiric parody of the culture war clash currently taking place in the U.S.

Alejandro Tey


The taut direction by Jeremy Aluma, terrific set design including a full wrestling ring by scenic and props designer Michael Lewis, super effective costumes by Hailey Rakowiecki, clever projections by Brian Lawrie, spot-on lighting by Charles Blunt, and intriguing sound design by Sarah D. Espinoza combine to set a fascinating scene. The excellent cast performances including amazingly talented physically challenging wrestling coached by fight director Kyle Encinas create a stunning group effort.

The language pours forth in beautifully crafted streams of commentary and self-revealing reflection from the central character, Puerto Rican-American Macedonio (“Mace”) Guerra, as he delivers an exegesis on the sport and an explication of his life, while simultaneously/alternately and fluidly participating in the action on stage. “The value is not in the fight, it’s in the communion”, he proclaims.

Mickey O'Sullivan, Alejandro Tey and Priyank Thakkar

Mace describes growing up with “my brother and my brother”; on Saturday mornings, in their Underoos, consuming ersatz Frosted Flakes, they play with various action figure/wrestlers. Mace is enthralled with the more realistic version  which are smaller but have movable parts.  He grows up to believe he has garnered his portion of the American Dream - he’s the fall guy for “Chad Deity”, THE Wrestling’s front man and champion. Mace waxes poetic in fractured Bronx prose about the beauty of the male bonding teamwork in the sport, but allows himself to be marginalized in performance. He philosophically accepts the yoke of presenting himself as a Hispanic/foreign threat figure, “Che Chavez Castro”. In reflecting on his role as foil, he philosophizes, “You can only kick someone’s ass if you have the help of the person whose ass you are kicking”. This is entertainment?!

 One day Mace’s brothers introduce him to VP (Vigneshwar Paduar), a Brooklyn street basketball legend and womanizer extraordinaire who fascinates with his ability to patter so successfully in so many languages. Mace brings his newfound friend into the world of THE Wrestling, Thus begins a series of exploitations of both men, with VP portrayed as a diabolical Muslim threat, “The Fundamentalist”. The complex role switching brings the piece to its many-layered denouement.

Semaj Miller

The language used may be shocking to the sheltered, but the twists and turns of the plot as Mace’s knowledge of repeated betrayals- until he’s pushed into his own betrayal- are nothing short of brilliant. In the end, it is difficult to separate out the real motives of the charachters from our suspicions and pre-conceived notions, and certainly that is one of the most telling aspects of this very entertaining and thought provoking work.


Semaj Miller and Alejandro Tey

Starring: Will Snyder and Dave Honigman as bad guys who are really good guys with Honigman doubling as the smugly knowing referee; Alejandro Tey in a multi-dimensional winning performance as Mace; Mickey O’Sullivan, who provides a wonderfully vibrant caricature of EKO, THE Wrestling’s boss; Semaj Miller as the wildly confident champ who bluffs so much you almost can’t tell he has a heart of gold; and Priyank Thakkar as the glib, knowing, lovable VP.

Lest this reviewer be remiss, I must point out that it’s much more than a cerebral play- there is high intensity audience involvement from the get-go and lots of laughs- this play is a must-see.

Will Snyder, Dave Honigman, Mickey O'Sullivan


For information and tickets, go to the redtheaterchicago website

 All photos by Freer Photography



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