The Book of Mormon Toilet Break
The Book of Mormon stage show is rubbish, poorly written and badly performed. My favourite part of the night was when I took a quick dump in the toilet during the intermission.
The curtains open, and the audience claps their flippers like trained walruses. The stage is in the Eugene O'Neill Theater on Broadway, close to Times Square. I'm not sure what I expected, but it wasn't this. The set looks cheap, like it was thrown together this afternoon. The costumes are even worse. And the acting... well, let's just say it's not award material.
In an attempt to disguise the inadequacies of the dialogue, the producers have the actors sing their parts, and then they drown them out with pre-recorded music that's so loud it distorts. But they're not fooling anyone. No amount of choreographed choruses can hide the fact that the idiots who wrote this play were at the time either drunk, stoned, or recovering from severe head injuries.
As a secondary school performing arts project, put on for free, the Book of Mormon might just pass with a C. But as a show for a paying audience, it's nothing more than a scam. Seriously, a five-year-old could have written the lyrics. And the recorded music is woeful. You pay hundreds of dollars (yes hundreds for the cheap seats) and they dish you up recorded crap. Not ever a live orchestra! Better to stay home and watch the fish tank.
This is my first time in New York, and it will be my last. It's all concrete, cars, and a pretend bit of nature in the middle of Manhattan called Central Park. There's a run-down, dirty subway that's a crowded nightmare, and a giant green statue that even the French didn't want.
You'd have to be partway insane to like it here. You might even convince yourself that you're entertained by all manner of rubbish on stage, just to deal with the misery of living in New York. Detached from what the soul really requires: space, trees, clean air and wilderness - one might pretend to be in awe of shit. Some moron immediately behind me is crumpling his potato chip packets without pause, and I wonder why he isn't thrown out. Or maybe audience annoyances are part of the show? I look around at the patrons; they're laughing. And it occurs to me then: they don't care about quality. They don't even care about the show. They're only here for the toilet.
At half time, folk rush up from their seats and make a mad dash for the crapper. Everyone wants to be there first, and the ushers yell not to push. I get an elbow in my ribs and give one back twice as hard. This is audience participation at its best.
I'm in the queue for the ladies' room, and people are shooting me odd glances.
The attendant in a blue uniform by the restroom door says I should be in the line for men, but I explain that I don't identify as a man. I tell her I'm a duck.
"What?" she says, confused. "Have you never heard of Quackers?" I ask, to which she angrily replies, "You're holding up the queue."
"So that there sign is just all for show?" I ask, pointing to the glass note on the wall that reads, Gender diversity is welcome here. Please use the restroom that best fits your gender identity or expression.
The attendant insists there's no such gender as Duck. I feel disrespected, humiliated and hurt.
"So, the toilet sign is just to make Management here feel warm and fuzzy - but in practical terms, it means patrons have to shit where you tell you to shit?" I ask the annoyed attendant. She threatens to call security.
The bathroom is disgusting. It's a small, cramped space with no ventilation. The smell of urine is unbearable. But I don't care. I'm happy to have a few minutes to myself and a reprieve from the torturous show. I stand over the toilet and take a piss. I also take a selfie, for my holiday snaps of New York.
And then, I sit down on the plastic thunder-seat and let it all spill out. I feel so relieved. And as I sit there, I take a moment to reflect on all the folk who have shitted here before me. Then I contemplate the large wad of cash I've wasted on the show. I guess it's true what they say: "shit happens."