Fundamentally Good and Bad Guys ‘Rassle at Actors

I’m proud to say I’ve never been to a professional wrestling event, but I can imagine the atmosphere is a little bit like it was last night at Actors Theatre for the press night performance of “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.” The normally sedate Actors crowd was prompted to raucous noise making by the ring scene atmosphere.

Elaborate were the signs distributed at the play. Luke, the youngest audience member, got one

I doubt I was the only one there who doesn’t consider wrestling ( or ‘rasslin’) a cultural option or an actual sport. In fact, the outstanding Alex Hernandez (who played Macedonio “The Mace” Guerra” ) explained throughout the 2-act play that the whole thing is a farce, with the most talented wrestlers charged with making the heroes look good. That, he said, takes talent.

I’m sure it does. But the sport/entertainment has earned its redneck reputation. It was probably a little more believable back when I was growing up, but it never took much brainpower to figure out the whole thing was fake.

It’s really about good guys and bad guys, and creating an audience frenzy that might create an ultimate event — something people will pay to see on Pay-per-View. The techniques include jingoistic themes and exploitation of racial stereotypes — bad guys are terrorists from the Middle East, of course. The facts don’t matter when portraying a bad guy, anything to get the crowd going will suffice.

And while Mace helped the audience understand the whole wrestling business plan, Chad Deity showed us why it can be so much fun to watch. Played by Kamal Angelo Bolden, Deity prances and poses and, is a really bad wrestler. But cigar-chomping promoter Everett K. Olson (played brilliantly by Lou Sumrall) cares about one thing — selling the show to the crowd. So he buys into another character that plays terrorist to the hilt – The Fundamentalist – his signature move is called a Koran Kick.

There’s plenty of actual fighting in the play — the fight scenes are orchestrated by Al Snow, a former professional wrestler and a trainer at the Ohio Valley Wrestling School. The falls in the ring, amplified by a microphone under the floor, are so real they hurt.

There are plenty of references to actual legendary professional wrestlers, but the play’s about a lot more than that.

Performances are through Feb. 4, with tickets at $36. On Jan. 12 abd 19, there will be a community reception led by community leaders to discuss Lo0uisvllle’s cultural landscape as it relates to the play.

For details, click here.