My wife and I saw "The Book of Mormon" at the Bank of America Theatre yesterday, a Christmas gift from our children and their spouses. They know we're season ticket-holders at the Drury Lane and will jump at the chance to see a live play. We had premium front rows seats in the balcony. Probably better seats than many below in the orchestra section where sightlines may be eclipsed by the larger patrons.
"The Book of Mormon" is the brainchild of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, the edgy irreverent animated series on Comedy Central. I'm familiar with the show but I can't say I'm a regular viewer. I (and my wife to a lesser extent) had heard the buzz generated for months by BOM and were keenly aware of the glowing reviews it has generally received. Maybe not, of course, from the Christian Right.
BOM has all you can swallow if you're ok with a menu of bad taste and shock therapy. Stone and Parker not only cross the line, they erase it completely. Anything goes in their barnyard, scatological world. Put two Mormon missionaries in a small Ugandan village---especially one (Elder Price) who'd rather be in Orlando and his partner (Elder Cunningham), a quirky follower with a strong tendency for fabulation--- mix in a team of welcoming elders who have been repressing homosexual guilt trips, add a savage warlord with the name Buck F**king Naked and you have the recipe for an all-out assault on one of society's most sacred cows: religion.
And, of course, the Church of the Latter Day Saints. BOM is a withering, scathing expose of LDS. It skewers its founding fathers, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. It makes a travesty of its scripture. Witness, Cunningham who invents teachings when reading to the villagers in order to persuade them to join the church. In one such case, he assures them that God says in the Book of Mormon that copulation with a frog will prevent violating an infant.It's a myth, like all the rest.
What is surprising to me is that LDS has used the play for its own PR.
On top of everything else, BOM has a visit to Hell in a dream sequence. Simulated oral and anal sex. Baptism as a sexual encounter. Christ using a vulgar epithet. And the Book of Mormon itself winding up in an anatomical place where the sun don't shine.
It's outrageous and offensive. But I'm laughing too hard to mind.