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Read: The Book of Mormon shows how odd and funny we all are

I read somewhere that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka The Mormons) were okay with the The Book of Mormon. If that’s true I’d be surprised because if I were a Mormon I’d be horrified. But, perhaps they subscribe to the old adage “any publicity is good publicity.”

The first song Hello, is a catchy tune that mocks the doorbell ringing, black pant, white shirt, black tie wearing cliche of Mormon solicitations and their carefully orchestrated banter. It’s immediately clear the church is in for a drubbing.

As the show progresses we are told the history of the Mormons and their curious belief system. 

The song I Believe outlines in all its glorious absurdity the Church canon. I won’t outline the beliefs here because, if you don’t already know, they will come as quite a revelation (pun intended). And what’s more, as weird as they sound in the show, they are exactly what the adherents profess in real life. 

In many ways, The Book of Mormon is not just about that particular church, it’s really challenging all the quirky and strange aspects of Human culture such as religion, politics, and business. What’s more, it underscores how all that culture is wrapped up in individual pride, power, lies and self-deception.

As with any good parody, nothing is sacred or safe. The song I Am Africa beautifully highlights the modern day re-colonisation of the continent by white evangelists with the telling line ‘Africans are African but we are A-Frica!’  

The show also parodies aspect of African life, such as: mentally unstable War Lords, female genital mutilation, AIDS, corruption, and poverty. 

In the song Hasa Diga Eebowai it is cleverly pointed out that religious belief is no protector from disease, violence and hardship.  

The entire production is superb, the excellent cast have wonderful voices and an energy that is.. well energising. The sets are great, and one in particular, Spooky Mormon Hell Dream, stands out for its pure outlandishness. The songs and dialogue are filled with expletives and explicit sexual references which the audience just laps up. 

If this was hard-hitting play, it might get quite depressing, but the beauty of The Book of Mormon is that while its humour and jaunty tunes depict how very, very odd human beings are, we can also have a damn good laugh at ourselves. 

THE BOOK OF MORMON 

6 March – 26 April 2020 

Civic Theatre – Auckland

Click here for booking information 

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