Out, out damn … ow, piledriver!

RYAN WENZEL

Out, out damn … ow, piledriver!

Shakespeare on silly steroids. BY RYAN WENZEL

One doesn’t usually associate Shakespearean drama with Mexican wrestling, but the two vastly different genres are combined in “Mexican Wrestling Macbeth,” a play written and directed by Bob Fisher running at the Baliwick Arts Center.

Fisher came up with the idea for the play two years ago and wrote the final draft last summer. It debuted in October as the Halloween show for The Mammals, a contemporary Chicago theater group. Because of its success it was brought back to the stage this April. Its two-month run will end this Saturday.

The comedy pays homage to exaggerated Mexican monster cinema of the ’50s and ’60s. The story centers on a monster-movie film director hoping to direct the first Mexican Shakespearean cinema. But he can only get financial support by casting Mexican wrestlers in all of the roles.

Chaos ensues when rivals of the ring battle for the best parts. Candidates hurl folding chairs at each other and perform ancient Aztec black magic blood sacrifices to secure their desired roles.

When a feisty female wrestler named La Diabla Azul isn’t given the coveted role of Lady Macbeth, she seduces the assistant director to get her way. To her dismay, the Samson, the masked man playing the leading role, smells a rat, creating the play’s central conflict. The wrestlers soon begin to resemble Shakespeare’s characters and borrow his words.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Shakespeare, but there’s a part of me that’s phenomenally bored by Shakespeare,” Fisher said. “I wanted an opportunity to play around with Macbeth but to do it in a way that no one has conceived before.”

The title and content of the play are sure to strike some audience members as strange, but obscure themes are nothing new for The Mammals. The company specializes in the unlikely genres of science fiction, horror and phantasmagoria (fantasy with optical effects and illusions).

Fisher said he tries to include deep powerful meaning in his plays, but added “Mexican Wrestling Macbeth” is merely “an exercise in fun.”

“It’s my homage to the horror genre itself,” he said. “It was an opportunity for me to play around in a genre that’s fun.”