Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Book of Mormon - A Profane and Hilarious Look at Religion

Well, I finally managed to get some tickets to the "sold out" Book of Mormon, the hottest ticket on Broadway these days.  I've been looking online for decent seats at a fairly reasonable price and not willing to spend $600 a ticket to sit in center orchestra, finally settled for less.   Used to the larger venues in L.A., I'd forgotten how small the Eugene O'Neill theater  is and how good most of the seats are.  In row H on the side, we had a fabulous view of the stage for Sunday's evening performance.

And what a performance!

First a warning to those of you who are dogmatic about your religion and unable to have a sense of humor about the absurdity of some religious tenants.   This show is NOT for you.  However, if you have a sense of humor and understand that life itself is sometimes absurd and that it is never easy to extrapolate the same set of rules that make sense in one society to another, then you will enjoy the very clever and witty musical satire by the creators of South Park.

South Park should be the clue here.  If you get the humor of the long running, popular TV program, you will have no problem laughing at the hilarious profanity that goes along with the plot of the young Mormon boys, fresh out of training and ready to go out and spread their gospel to the world and running up against the realities of life and the failings of their faith, as they are assigned, not to Orlando, the Disneyesque view too many Americans have of the world at large, but to modern day Uganda, with it's tribal wars, rampant Aids, extreme poverty and the constant threat of the various warlords that terrorize the villages and impose their own brand of "religion" in the form of female circumcision and mutilation.

This is where faith runs up against the wall of ignorance about things we take for granted and at the same time, the built in intuitiveness of some of the locals who sometimes "get it" past our own understanding, so mired are we in the surety that our way is the "only way."  The show tells us to forget "The Lion King" view of Africa.  This isn't it!
The Mormon lads work as pairs, and the overachiever and top of his class is naturally paired with the gung ho, "oh boy, I have a friend" underachiever  nerd, whose own knowledge of the basics of his religion is a little nebulous and what he doesn't know of the stories, he intersperses with his own fantasy heroes to make it more palatable and user friendly to the native peoples.

I won't tell you more, but this play is the real thing,  a big musical in the Broadway tradition, with a hysterically funny plot, some very graphic lyrics and, ultimately, a very nice message.

One must take the bitter with the sweet with The Book of Mormon, and the naysayers who said this would not play to the wider audiences are perhaps again putting people in boxes, the lesson here being that our common humanity is more important than our dogma and that with a sense of humor, even about God, who,  if you believe in him, has the most absurd sense of humor of all and, if we are created in his image....he passed it down to some of us so that we would understand that laughter is a good thing and especially when we laugh at the absurdity of some of the tenets of organized religion, no matter which kind and where it comes from.

I highly recommend this show, but leave your pomposity at home, please.   The standing ovation of the audience indicated that enough of them did, and although you may be a little rocked at first, you will not be disappointed in the entertainment value of a very lush and funny Broadway musical.

My hats off to Matt Stone and Trey Parker!

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

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