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Karamu Theater’s ‘Chad Deity’ is a night of body slamming fun

Nothing was spared in this exceptional depiction of the underbelly of professional wrestling.
Nothing was spared in this exceptional depiction of the underbelly of professional wrestling.Karamu Theater

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

Rating:
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Rarely does a local theatrical company go to such lengths of authenticity as Karamu Theater has in their production of “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”, written by Kristoffer Diaz and directed by Terrence Spivey and playing through April 6, 2014 at the Jelliffe Theatre.

Chad is not the only thing that is elaborate. From the regulation size wrestling ring that dominates the stage, to the actual wrestling moves that each actor had to learn in order not to be injured to the costuming and even the bikini clad ring girls this show puts you up close and personal with the world of professional wrestling.

Macedonio Guerra (Davis Aquila) is a wrestling champion in everything but title. He is the “heavy” that is necessary for the crowd to boo as he battles the uber charismatic Chad Deity. As Macedonio puts it, “a man can only get his --- kicked if he cooperates”. It is Guerra’s job is twofold; lose the match in dramatic fashion and make Chad look good. Everett K. Olson (Mark Seven) is the smarmy promoter who has one objective…to make money by any means possible.

In the course of the play, Guerra discovers Vigneshwar Paduar, a street chameleon who has spent his life making something of himself. Paduar is coaxed into becoming the new “heavy” as a Muslim fundamentalist with Macedonio as his audience bating manager and is taught one wrestling move, “the sleeper cell” kick. Vigneshwar goes up against two corn fed middle America hero types Billy Heartland and Old Glory (both played by Chase Coulter) who he dispatches with his newly acquired secret weapon, thus setting himself up with a showdown match with Chad Deity. It is at this crossroads that each character must make a choice, to continue on the racist status quo or to break free of “the game”.

This play is both dialog driven as well as action driven and both are done very well. All of the actors are really into their various roles and I saw no line flubs during the Sunday matinee. Prophet Seay is perfect as the unlikely wrestling Vigneshwar Paduar. Unlike the other wrestlers, he does not “need” to be in the game. Reginald McAlpine as Chad Deity plays the role with all the ridiculous pomp and silliness that it deserves. Mark Seven as EKO (Everett K. Olson) plays it to the hilt to where you are not sure who to boo, him or the “bad guys”. Davis Aquila as Macedonio Guerra brings depth to his role that goes beyond the wrestling stereotype. As for “the other bad guy with the black mask” was played by Franchot Thomas who had terrific audience interaction upon his entrance.

With the theater half full of audience members, there was quite a bit of encouragement on the part of the cast to get us involved in the real wrestling experience. We were freely allowed to cheer and boo to our hearts content as well as make comments to the various characters. I should also mention that the wrestling parts appeared very real especially when a folding chair was used to flatten one of the wrestlers…very effective.

The only shortcoming that I saw was in the sound. Seeing as how the actors were unmiked except the ring announcer and Chad Deity at times some of the dialog got swallowed up or drowned out by the music. There is also one scene where Chad is shouting into the mike and it was painfully loud, but these are minor problems on an otherwise fine performance.

Prude Alert: There is quite a lot of “mature” language with the f bomb being dropped with impunity. There is also a lot of wrestling “violence” that looks quite effective.

Shooting From The Lip (My Last Words): “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” is just that…Elaborate. A tremendous amount of effort has been put into this play to give you the “real wrestling experience”. Even if you are not a fan of wrestling, see this for the exceptional performances and body slams.

Regular Performance times for The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity are 8:00 p.m. Thursday to Saturdays and at 3:00 p.m. on Sundays. Ticket cost range from $20 to $25.00.

This play features strong language and is intended for mature audiences only

Tickets may be purchased on line by going to www.karamuhouse.org or via phone by calling our Ticket Office at (216) 795-7077. Discounts may not be combined with other special rates. Please contact the box office to receive group rate information and date availability. Cash, Master card and Visa are accepted for payments.

COLLEGE NIGHT (March 20) $10 admission fee with college ID

SENIOR’S NIGHT (March 21) $15 admission fee with Golden Buckeye or AARP cards

Karamu House Inc. is generously funded by Cuyahoga County Residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Community Sponsors, the Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, The Ohio Arts Council and Educational Sponsor The Ohio Lottery.