Red Theater Chicago Presents THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY – Amerika Down for the Count

Angels in America???

 This writer, stimulated to the brink of being stunned, left The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity trying to remember any performance that so invited a follow on foray to find and lavish in its multilayered script. (Playwright: Kristoffer Diaz)

For the past few hours we had sat ringside, watching this production’s cast of six acrobatically bounce in, over, through and around the wrestling ring stage. Fast moves are paired with faster lines still, especially from the narration by Puerto Rican MACE (played by Alejandro Tey) who is living his Bronx-childhood born dream of being a wrestler. Never mind that he has to lose in order to win. Never mind that he has to become a mélange of Mexican, Cuban and Cesar Chavez. Never mind that he never gets to tell the money-hungry owner and manager EKO (played masterfully by understudy Michael Stock) what he really thinks. He is living the American Dream his way and what we hope is everyone’s way—cherishing his art, his professionalism and the great satisfaction of doing his job right.

Red Theater Chicago One of 30+

This is THE WRESTLING world, where stereotypes are packed and unpacked before us as permutations of bad guys of all stripes in a telenova styled ever evolving narrative. It’s difficult to imagine a production more nuanced or with timing on par with this one (Director: Jeremy Aluma), though we read in the program book The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has had 30+ productions so far in the US. Metaphors abound, mostly coming in the forms of grunting Bad Guy (played by former pro wrestler Will Snyder), a fast-talking ladies man Indian-American from Brooklyn who gets cajoled by our narrator to join him in this wrestling ring ballet (VP, played by Priyank Thakkar), and the title character Chad Deity (played with megawatt smile charm by Semaj Miller), and the carcicatured referee (played by former Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey clown Dave Honigman, whose gymnastic prowess is only outdone by his pre-show kibbutzing with the crowd.)

Not ever a wrestling fan before, this writer can’t imagine anyone in the audience not wanting to join in the mirth of booing the bad guys and rooting for the right guys on cue. It’s so much fun that we barely noticed we were falling down the rabbit hole to an alt universe where the American dream has become the American nightmare.

One-two-three, Amerika is down for the count.



Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.


Thru September 16

Thurs-Sat @8pm
Sundays @4pm

Additional performance: Monday 8/28 (Captioned)


Strawdog Theatre
1802 W Berenice Ave
Chicago, IL 60613




PHOTOS:   M. Freer Photography


Note: an excerpt of this review appears in Theater in Chicago.


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