Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Book of Mormon

We saw The Book of Mormon this week. When it won all those Tony awards I knew I wanted to see it so when I heard that it was coming here, I was very excited. Our seats were close to the front but off to the side which isn't perfect, but allows us (Ian) to have more leg room.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the show. I knew it was a musical, and I knew it was funny, and that it was created by the creators of South Park. I figured that it would probably skewer Mormon religions - what with the title being the Book of Mormon and all - but it didn't, really. It did poke fun at the religion but not that much. I expected some inappropriate humour and it was also present but it wasn't as widespread as I thought it would be.

In many ways, the subject was fairly serious: two new Elders are sent to complete their two-year missions in Uganda. There, they arrive in a village where all the women are either circumcised or are going to be, almost everyone has AIDS, and people are oppressed by a very nasty general. One Elder undergoes culture shock while the other, who is an awkward, incorrigible liar, tries to bring the villagers hope (and tried to convert them, of course) by telling them his version of the Book of Mormon.

One thing I liked about the humour in the show was that it was generally very gentle and subtle and it wasn't mean. Even when they were making fun of Mormons, they weren't saying that the people or the religion was bad; they were just pointing out some inconsistencies but they weren't doing it in a negative way. I actually learned a thing or two about the history of Mormonism from this musical. Who'd have thought?

The actors were very good and I was quite impressed with their performance. The only quibble I had was that the sound levels for two of the performers was off just a bit and we couldn't hear them singing as well as we could the others. Aside from that, everything was smooth and well-executed.

Unlike at other shows we've attended recently, a physical program was given out. Aside from the venue and production company ads, there was only a single advertiser in the program: the Mormon church. I guess that makes sense.

I definitely recommend this show for adults only - this is not suitable for kids as there is quite a bit of swearing and some sexual situations. The Book of Mormon is funny, over-the-top sometimes, and there was a joke that was repeated once too often for my taste, but underneath all that it felt very serious, honest, and real. If this show is coming to your city, try to see it.

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