Watching: The Book Of Mormon

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I debated over writing this review. Mostly because I like to keep things light on this blog. Also, I did not want to invite a debate over this play. Because it is not worth my time. I have all ready wasted money on it. I hate to waste time even more.

I also never want to discuss religion on this blog, because it is just not something I care to discuss.

I also choose not bring up sex on this blog for much the same reason. When my children are out of the house, I might loosen up a bit. But for now those are my rules.

And in talking about this play, I would unfortunately have to bring up both of those words.

So, I decided not to write a review.

Only…

Every time I turn on the television, there is a commercial advertising this production with words it does not, in my humble opinion, deserve.

I would feel I am not being true to myself to not put this review out there. This is simply my opinion of the play. I am quite sure based on the laughter in the theater many people would disagree with me. However, here it is. Just this once. Me breaking my rules:

In one word, I would describe The Book Of Mormon play as puzzling.

And not in a good way.

I had been wanting to see The Book Of Mormon, the musical, for years. I am not a fan of South Park, but I absolutely loved the musical Avenue Q.

I did not really know what this play was about. I just knew everyone seemed to love it. It had won multiple awards. It was heralded as funny. Probably a little raunchy. It sounded like a great date night pick.

Idiotically, I did not read any reviews. I wanted it to be a surprise.

And it was.

Just not in the way that I hoped it would be.

I naively thought the play would be about Mormon boys knocking door to door and the funny capers they would witness and be subject to at different people’s homes. That just made the most sense to me.

I was entirely wrong.

This play does not want to make sense.

It simply wants to break down censors.

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I knew I was in trouble from the beginning. Everyone was laughing and whooping throughout the beautiful Pantages Theater. And I was sitting there stunned. Because, to me, it was incredibly offensive. I looked at my husband and he had the same disgusted look on his face.

It was unbelievable. I felt like I was on Candid Camera. Or as if I was in a tent where everyone had smoked the magic fungi and I had only managed to contract a fungus.

I found this play to be very degrading to a great many people. It is immature. It relies heavily on shock value. As an adult who never felt the need to make up pretend words for genitals for a dialect with my children, I could not find the humor. Add in some sentences strewn in concerning random maggots and frogs. And those were the extent of the “jokes.” If I were to describe this play, that is what I would say it is about. Sentences with genitalia shouted out streamed with a random object and the f-word.

I would say it wasn’t really about religion. Maybe a bit. A little background about me: I am not Mormon. When I first heard about Mormon boys (when I was a Junior in high school) going on a two year mission, I was incredibly excited. I thought they were going to go search out treasure. Or fight dragons. I was very disappointed when I learned what they would really be doing. Boys in white shirts are incredibly different than knights on white horses. However, as a mother, my heart is softened when I see these young men far from home. In their handsome starched button down shirts and ties. They tug at my heart strings. I might not believe in what they are doing, but I can emphasize with how homesick they must feel. And I always give them water or a snack when they come by. I do not let them in. Most of them just want to pet my dogs. They miss that little bit of home. I would want someone to treat my son the same way if he was in their shoes.

I also feel we should be respectful of everyone’s religion, no matter what we think of it. A little poke is fine. A giant shove is another thing entirely. With all of that said, I found the song with the chorus, “F*** You God!” extremely unnecessary.

And their betrayal of Africans… I just could not believe it. I could not believe they found actors willing to play the roles. They made Africans a sad caricature of a race. It was horribly degrading. The reason this play got a 2 from me out of 10, and not a 1, is simply because the female lead was incredibly talented. Her voice. Probably the best I had heard in any musical. It is a shame it was being wasted on f-bombs and frogs.

Other offenses were the jokes about raping babies and female circumscion. Maybe I took too many Ethics Classes in college (one topic that happened to be discussed over and over again was female circumcision), but I am ashamed that this play is so highly revered in America. What does that say about us?

I kept imagining I was in the middle of a split screen. On one side you have us Americans watching this play and rolling in our seats at the man pronouncing that he is going to go rape a baby to cure his AIDS. And then I imagined the other side of the screen being the mother that this actually happened to that very day. To her baby. And her watching us laughing at the play. And her grief increasing tenfold at the plight of the human race.

It made me furious.

According to statistics, in the time period that I sat and watched this play, 655 more people contracted HIV. I am sorry, but to me, that is not funny. Nor is the thought that people are so desperate to cure themselves they will resort to raping children. Even babies.

My husband and I both agree that this production should be giving back some of their proceeds to the plight in this world that they so easily and carelessly mock.

And even if the play was not offensive, the music was forgettable. The jokes were flat. The storyline dragged on and was unbearably boring.

There were children there! Children! You guys, one song had the entire African male cast each strap on a giant three foot… hose…On stage. And act out…acts. And use the f-word for the act. What the heck were those parents thinking?

However, the cast got a standing ovation. We stood… And we left. As I was leaving I overheard a young man say to someone else, “I love this play! I have seen it three times this week! I have the whole thing memorized.”

I just don’t get it.

Thank God.

I am in no way a prude. In my circle of friends I would be described as a good time. The one that almost always has to make a few phone calls on Sunday mornings to apologize for my behavior the night before. I also am not bothered by curse words. So, for me to find this play offensive, well, it should not be taken lightly.

But neither should AIDS.

Or rape.

Or the perils of the third world.

Now I’m off to go get some cream. This fungus is itchy. I would hate for it to spread.

24 thoughts on “Watching: The Book Of Mormon

    • Thank you Amy. It was really hard for me to publish, but my girlfriend convinced me people need to know what this play is about. We bought the cheapest seats (my head hit the back of the theater) and I paid $190 for two tickets. Orchestra was almost quadrupled the price of our seats! I cannot imagine spending $400 on a ticket and being offended like that. I am so glad I helped you with my review.

      Have a lovely weekend!

      Jenni

    • Thank you Jessica. It was hard. Especially not being anonymous about it, but it is something I felt strongly about.

      Thanks for being supportive! : )

      Have a lovely weekend!

      Jenni

    • Thank you Catherine. I appreciate that a lot. It was hard to figure out how to write this since I did not want to use the foul language they used on my blog.

      Have a splendid weekend! : )

      Jenni

    • Thank you Barbara. I felt like I was alone in that, too. For every fantastic thirty reviews there is one bad one. That kind of shocks me. I saw Avenue Q in New York, gosh, seven or eight years ago?! I just remember we got clearance tickets for $35 each and there were muppets and I believe they made fun of pedophiles (who deserve it). I think for me it was less real using puppets to be crass then humans I could see being crass. Does that make sense?

      Thank you for commenting!

      Have a lovely weekend! : )

      Jenni

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I am a member of the Church or Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – the Mormons as we are called. I had never heard anything about this production, but it sounds truly like one to miss. I believe that a person’s religious beliefs are sacred. Even if I don’t understand or “agree” with another’s beliefs I wouldn’t mock those beliefs. I would never go see a play where nuns or priests were made fun of or belittled. I don’t understand that mindset. Again, I appreciate you stating your opinion so that others – maybe some who would be inclined to see this production, might think again. I love your blog! It brightens my day!

    • Thank you so much Jill! And thank you for commenting. The play was quite shocking. I just assumed that it would not be so vulgar and degrading of a religion, because I thought surely someone would have protested that by now. In the play book there were three big ads taken out by the Mormon church stating ,”You’ve seen the play. Now read the book.” It shocked me that they would pay to advertise with this production. There is a whole skit where one of the Mormon boys tells the Africans a lie that Joseph Smith had relations (my toned down word) with a frog instead of relations with a baby. Crazy! I cannot believe this play does not have more bad reviews.

      Thank you so much for commenting. And your sweet words. I really appreciate it!

      Have a wonderful weekend!

      Jenni

  2. Your post is the first I have heard of this play. Sounds to me like the case of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ in which nobody was brave enough to say what they really saw and thought so went along with the rest of the crowd, convincing themselves otherwise. This show sounds hideous. Thank you for steering me away in case it comes our way.

    • Thanks Brynne. Hideous is a good word for it. My husband said the exact same thing about the Emperor’s New Clothes. That is exactly what he felt was happening. Nobody wanted to admit that this play was not good. I also think a lot of it could have been nervous laughter. Maybe people just did not know his to react. Five minutes after the play was over, I got a survey from Pantages asking me what I thought of it and would I see it again, recommend it, or want it to come back to L.A. You can guess my answers. ; )

      Have a marvelous weekend!

      Jenni

  3. Ugh. Sounds awful. I am surprised that they came back to LA. This show was a monster hit in New York but it got really bad reviews and had low attendance here in Los Angeles. I love the South Park guys but never had any intention of seeing this show because of how horrible and juvenile everyone said it was. Bummer that you spent time and money on it.

    • Thanks Cynthia. It was a bummer. I barely was able to get tickets. And I purchased best available. They were almost $200 and my head hit the wall. So I could see the entire audience’s reaction. Most people (2/3) seemed to be laughing. There was a couple in the row in front of us that I could tell hated it. But the girl next to me was hysterical. I bet it comes back.

      In addition to the Emperor’s New Clothes theory my husband had, he also thinks people were so relieved it was not their religion, they happily laughed about it. I don’t know. I just found the whole thing sad. I am glad you all ready knew what it was like and opted not to go. Why couldn’t we have done that?!

      Have a fantastic evening!

      Jenni

  4. Well, that sounds lame! I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad experience there. That musical is on in London, too, sold out months in advance. Anyway, I don’t think Victor and I will be going to this – thanks for the warning.

    • Thanks Gwen. I thought I had read it had made its way overseas but I did not know it was still there. I am surprised it would do well there. I am sad to have wasted time and money, but I also learned to now review things before I go. I am a bit nervous because a few months ago I bought tickets for a comedian I know nothing about. My friend told me I will hate it and to sell my tickets on Craigslist. I hope it is not a repeat of this. It was before I learned my lesson. : )

      Have a great weekend!

      Jenni

  5. I 100% agree with your review of this play. I also find it unbearably offensive and somewhat hypocritical of our society. Also, it shows the inconsistency of our nation that some religions are open for target for the most crude insults, whereas if you mention a peep of disagreement with certain others you are branded as being prejudice.
    The first time I heard of this play was from my superior. I refused to laugh at her take on the play and I lost points on her evaluation. Maybe it’s coincidence, but I’m thinking not. But I could care less.
    I am not mormon either btw. Just think this is plain wrong.

    • Thank you Maggie. I am sure I will get someone that disagrees. But that play was definitely one of the worst things I have seen. Every single thing about it made me cringe. Good for you for sticking to your morals and that sucks about your review. But that is on her conscience. She will have to live with that. I am also a firm believer in karma…

      Have a lovely Tuesday! And thanks so much for commenting.

      Jenni

  6. Ugh. I was never really interested in it, but I am glad you reviewed it. I find mockery of race and religion unbearable. I would have lost my mind if I had heard comments about AIDS babies and rape. Lost my mind. I have spent time in africa with AIDS orphans and it is no laughing matter. Ever. You should publish this review elsewhere. It can not be o.k.

    • Thanks Alicia! The followers of this play are crazy for it. They generally tear down reviewers. I published it here to warn anyone who might stop by. But it would be insane anywhere else.

      That is so wonderful that you have spent time in Africa with children. Have you ever read Kisses From Katie? It was a book picked for book club and it really opened my eyes to what is going on in Africa. I think that is one of the reasons this play made me so sick. There is so much sadness over there, it is disgusting to make a joke of it.

      I hope your Tuesday is beautiful!

      Jenni

  7. I read this last night before I ate. I think I just found my new diet plan.

    It made me so sick to think of people laughing about stuff like this. I still can’t even wrap my head around it. I’m so sorry you saw this and have those images in your brain somewhere. Just the images that come to my mind after reading this is enough.
    I totally agree with the other commenters: religion, rape, race, AIDS are not jokes. Not punchlines. Real problems for the world and as a citizen of the world, I don’t think it’s funny. And still I wonder if I’m missing something here that it’s so popular. I just assumed it was a spoof on Mormon missionaries or something. smh

    BTW, I can see why the Mormon church would put ads in the playbill- it’s got to be just for pure damage control. If that’s what people associate with a church, it would have to do something to counter that.

    Anyway, love your blog, I just don’t comment much. Have a good weekend!

    • I am sorry you read that before you ate. I agree with everything you said. It was such a disgusting production.

      I don’t get why people like it either. It seems to be a case of wanting to like what everyone else does. Or maybe that is what people want to laugh about. In which case, it just makes me so sad. I think that is how I felt after the play. Defeated. And so so sad that humanity had turned to these kind of jokes.

      That is a good assumption about the ads. I was baffled by them, but that does make sense.

      Thank you for the blog comment. I really appreciate that. I hope you are able to still eat! Sorry about that! : )

      I hope you have a good weekend, too!

      Jenni

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