I have seen numerous plays during the last several months; however, The Book of Mormon certainly left the strongest impression on me. As many people know by now, this play is the exact anti-thesis of political correctness and takes a strong stance on numerous controversial issues. In terms of aesthetic appeal, the play is definitely not on a par with some other plays that I saw recently, but the boldness of its message will definitely make everybody question their assumptions and spark endless hours of discussion among friends. As the political message is brought to the foreground, it is necessary to analyze that aspect of the play in great detail in addition to its aesthetic appeal.
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The Book of Mormon is a musical comedy created by the famous creative duo that gave us the South Park series. In this sense, the play is an attempt on the part of the duo to test their skills in more traditional art forms while preserving the biting wit and merciless sarcasm that made them famous around the world. The central theme of the play is an attempt of two men to convert citizens of the African country of Uganda to Mormonism. These two individuals have very special characters which reflect in an exaggerated manner dominant political ideologies. The interactions of these two characters with the people of Uganda yield a large number of comical situations.
When it comes to music, one needs to say that it is evident that the music was primarily created with the intent of augmenting the comedy, and sometimes the music is the focus of a particular joke. Those who have watched South Park will easily recognize the musical style in the play as well. Ruthless sarcasm of the lyrics delivered over soft melodies represents a masterful contrast that highlights the comic character of the play.
The performance of the actors was astonishing and that is certainly the best aspect of the play. After getting used to South Park characters as channels through which their makers deliver their humor, it is natural to wonder how successfully the message will be conveyed when actors on stage are involved. From this perspective, it is necessary to say that the actors only contributed to the creative and humorous expression of the writers.
Now, turning to the political aspect of the play, the first impression that needs to be singled out is that the play is bound to incite uneasiness in everyone who has any respect for the notion of political correctness. The satirical attack on the Mormon religion is ruthless and brutal. The play touches on numerous hot issues that are currently debated like gay rights, racism, political ideologies, etc. Even though the play makes many powerful arguments through the use of humor, it has to be said that on several occasions the creators evidently abuse the audience’s trust.
Over the course of the play, the writers build a strong ethos of rationality and ability to debunk superstition and dogma in simple one-liners; however, in some side remarks these one-liners become overly simplistic and misrepresent complicated issues as though they were on a par with the debate over certain rather simple matters. In the process, a strong libertarian political message is conveyed that is rooted in the critique of religion and oppressive social practices of certain kinds while paying absolutely no attention to the complex matters of race, class and gender in the society.
In sum, the play is a must-see for those who want to enjoy an enormous amount of biting humor and sarcasm through a critical eye. If humor is to be progressive, it needs to take into account the complexity of certain issues.