The Elaborate Entrance Of Chad Deity


REVIEW by Willard Manus

Kristoffer Diaz's rude, rough and irreverent satire on the world of professional wrestling body-slams its way into the Geffen Playhouse, literally knocking conventional theatre for a loop. First performed in Chicago, then at Second Stage in NYC, the Pulitzer-nominated play stars Desmin Borges as Mace, a motor-mouth journeyman wrestler who not only narrates the story in breathless hip-hop fashion but takes regular dives in the ring. Borges is brilliant in the role, using his considerable verbal and physical gifts to carry the story on his shoulders. He is backed up in splendid fashion by EKO (Steve Valentine), the brash, cynical head of THE Wrestler, the company that employs Mace and a stable of other wrestlers who fight under names like The Bad Guy, Heartland and Old Glory.

Topping the company slate is Chad Deity (Terence Archie), a muscle-bound, show-offy African-American who is proud to tell you that he never loses a rigged match. Which is why he resents it when Mace introduces his protege to EKO, an Indian-American, Brooklyn-born street hustler named VP (short for Vigneshwar Paduar). VP can't wrestle worth a lick, but the opportunistic EKO sees a big future for him as The Fundamentalist, an Arab terrorist every fan will love to hate.

Mace has moral qualms about this. Fake personas are okay in the world of wrestling; it's just showbiz after all. But at least Chad Deity and the other headliners can wrestle, unlike The Fundamentalist, who is more lover than fighter. How can a fraud like that be allowed to beat the reigning champ, Chad Deity? And how can Mace in all good conscience pretend to be The Fundamentalist's sidekick and fellow-villain, Che Chavez Castro?

CHAD DEITY'S storyline is on the shallow side, but it is executed in such snappy, hilarious fashion that you can forgive its shortcomings. Thanks to Edward Torres's expert direction, Peter Negrini's three-sided video projections, Brian Sidney Bembridge's steel-beamed set and Christina H. Jones's gloriously kitschy costumes, Diaz's play gets a spirited, crowd-pleasing production.

(Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave, Westwood. 310-208-5454 or