Company One’s ‘Chad Deity’ is a grand slam

BOSTON — Company One‘s production of Kris Diaz‘s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” is an entertaining, funny and heartfelt two hours about what happens when you put yourself — and your body — on the line for something you love
As a wrestler for THE, the preeminent pro wrestling organization, Macedonio “Mace”  Guerra (Ricardo Engerrman) is just a guy with some skills, but without a gimmick or the charisma that would make him stand out and be worthy of extra attention — and the money that comes with it. Still he’s pleased to be making a living doing something he dreamed of doing as a kid in the Bronx, watching TV on Saturday mornings with his brothers while chomping on his Frosted Flakes.

 Ricardo Engermann, Chris Leon and Peter Brown in a scene from Company
One’s production of “The Elaborate  Entrance of Chad Deity.” Photo: Liza Voll

Chad Deity (Chris Leon) is the champ, handsome, buff and charismatic. The “elaborate entrance” referred to in the title is his grand entry into the ring, with the screaming fans, the booming music, and the huge video screens projecting his every move. He only has one major drawback as THE champ — he can’t wrestle. That’s where guys like Mace come in, making other wrestlers look good before losing at the end.
It turns out Mace has never given up his dream of one day making a mark on his own on the wrestling world — if he were to find the right guy and the right angle.
His brothers tell him about VP, the rapping, trash-talking basketball player from the playground. Jacob Athyal as VP is Indian-American, but dark and swarthy enough to plausibly play an array of nefarious characters, including any number from the Middle East.
Peter Brown is a slimey sensation as the craven wrestling promoter Everett K. Olson. Think the WWE’s Vince McMahon with even less charm and wit. The more cynical the approach, the more he gets excited about the cash to be made selling it.

On Mace’s advice, he signs VP to a contract and his new charge becomes “the Fundamentalist,” a — you guessed it — Muslim whose signature move is the “sleeper cell.” It is determined that Mace will be his manager and advisor, mentoring the young phenom and cultivating him into a contender.
In a previous life, I worked part-time for 20 years at the old Boston Garden and saw hundreds of pro wrestling matches. It may sound like an oxymoron, but wrestling fans can smell a fake a mile away, and “Chad Deity” gets its street cred from the athletic wrestling moves performed by the cast, with help from wrestling trainer Brian Phillips and fight captain Mike Webb.
Webb also contributes mightily, playing several wrestlers, “the Bad Guy,” “Billy Heartland” and “Old Glory,” the last two wrestlers that VP climbs over on the way to the title shot.
The Roberts Studio Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts is one of Boston’s most versatile theater spaces, and it lends itself perfectly to Jason Ries’ creative staging, which includes theater-goers on three sides surrounding an actual wrestling ring, combining with Jen Rock’s lighting, Arshan Gailus’ sound, Olivia Sebesky’s video and projections and Kendra Bell’s costumes to create the grand theater and raucous atmosphere of a pro wrestling match.
Director Shawn LaCount deserves a huge amount of credit — especially given  the perils of seeing your leads slammed to the canvas several times each night — for going ahead and doing something both difficult and different, and doing it well.
You don’t have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.” But if you don’t, you might just need a slap upside the head.
Company One‘s production of “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity,” by Kristoffer Diaz, through Aug. 25 at the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. For tickets, call 617 933-8600 or go to http://www.bostontheatrescene.com.

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