Clues that James Long, making his theatrical debut as a wrestler in the Pulitzer-nominated drama “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”, is in fact a real-life wrestler:
His hair is tied in a Samurai topknot. The Speedo he’s wearing (in combination with tall black boots) has less fabric than a handkerchief. His promotional skills are highly honed: The banter and preening quickly hit a comic overdrive.
“I’m embarrassed,” Long deadpans, striking macho poses for a photographer as the show’s cast and crew, scattered around the otherwise empty Woolly Mammoth theater (where performances begin Monday), guffaw and crack jokes.
“Looks like Jimmy’s done this before,” “Deity” director John Vreeke jabs from the side of the room.
But the proof positive comes in the ring that is a key feature of designer Misha Kachman’s set. In a demonstration of the show’s wrestling scenes, Long and Shawn T. Andrew — playing the play’s idolized black champion Chad Deity (and yes, race and ethnicity become themes in Kristoffer Diaz’spointed satire of the stereotype-heavy wrestling and post-9/11 American life) strut inside the ropes and bash each other.