I’ll admit it. I never expected to see a successful play – much less a recent finalist for the exalted Pulitzer Prize – that’s all about TV wrestling. You know, the over-dramatized bouts between bodybuilders in spandex, who whip up the crowd, then do battle in matches that even the fans know are rigged.
Promoter: “Introducing first, hailing from Mumbai Do-or-Die India... Hailing from the planet of Brooklyn, New York… Hailing from the new global society. Weighing in at an incalculable socio-political weight… He is the future of Professional Wrestling…”
TV wrestling is so obviously and carefully staged that it actually makes a fine topic for a sharp-edged satire… especially when the script explores the ironic way the sport plays up ethnic stereotypes, turning certain wrestlers into idols, and others into bad guys.
The main character in this play is a New York wrestler from a Puerto Rican-background – played vividly by Andrew J. Perez. The guy’s labored in the trenches of the wrestling business for years, but he strikes box office gold when he starts selling himself as a sneering Latin American Communist.
Perez: “Attention, capital pigs. I am Che Chavez Castro, Mexican revolutionary and denouncer of all things A-m-m-e-r-i-c-a-n!”
The Puerto Rican wrestler hates himself for playing a stereotype, but he loves the sport, so he does his job – and his job, as Che Chavez Castro, is to be thrown down, again and again, by good looking guys wearing red, white and blue trunks.
This show’s combustible mix of fiery political satire and bare-chested sweaty theatricality is remarkable, and the buff actors really do climb into the ring and toss each other around.
(Sound of wrestling bout in play)
One thing for sure, you’ve never seen another play like this one. “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” is this year’s summer surprise – a left-field entry that defies all expectations and muscles its way into the winner’s circle.
“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” continues at Sacramento’s Capital Stage through August 11th.