If you can’t make fun of the Mormons, then who can you I ask? In today’s politically correct world, we’re surrounded by sacred cows everywhere, even the blondes and Newfies are pushing back for Pete’s sake. This is why, in part, The Book of Mormon, is such an utterly brilliant piece of theatre.
Heading into last night’s show I knew absolutely nothing about the background of The Book of Mormon, except that it is from the producers of South Park, that raunchy, irreverent, politically incorrect cartoon from the late 90s. To be honest, I never got much out of South Park back in the day, so I wasn’t overly excited to see The Book of Mormon. I mean, what on earth would it be like? Well, as I expected, it’s raunchy, irreverent and politically incorrect. It’s also one of the funniest things I’ve seen in years.
The Book of Mormon tells the story of Elder Price and Elder Cunnigham, two young men fresh out of Mormon missionary training. Sent to Uganda to find new followers, their happy, albeit repressed, view of the world is turned on it’s head making them question everything they’ve ever been told. Expecting “Hakuna Matata” when they land, they find that the reality is “Hasa Diga Bebowa”. I won’t share the meaning of that and spoil it for you but let’s just say Uganda ain’t Orlando.
After all, Uganda has Aids, child rape, female circumcision, poverty, famine and ruthless despots. Hilarious, right? Not so much, which is why I cringed everytime I laughed, and squirmed a little in my seat at some of the “read between the line” messages poked at us. Make no mistake, while the play is based around the Book of Mormon, it could have easily been any religious book. The utter ridiculousness of what some of our faith is based on is challenged at every turn in The Book of Mormon. (Note: watch for that sacred cow dragged across the stage)
There are not many shows or movies that I would waste time seeing again, The Book of Mormon is an exception. There is so much brilliance layered in this show that it might take me two or three times to grasp all of it. So, of course, my recommendation to you, is to see it. You can catch it at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa now, before it moves on to Seattle. Find a full listing here.
Sending mad respect out to the Mormons who actually paid for advertising in the playbill for The Book Of Mormon. This is not an invitation to ring my bell, ok?