The Order Is Love (drama)
Lex de Azevedo, Carol Lynn Pearson
I attended the Mapleton Stake's production of The Order Is Love last night. (A word to the wise to those thinking of going -- get there early. It's first come, first serve, and last night they had to turn people away; every chair in the cultural hall and overflow was full.)
The production was a bit more than I was expecting from a local stake production. They had a fairly good lighting system set up in the rafters of the cultural hall and a control board to run it. They used a combination of a orchestrated soundtrack for some of the musical numbers, and a small live orchestra for some numbers and some incidental music.
The sound system was the major disappointment of the evening. The music sounded muddy and their were no stage mikes -- and they needed them to carry over an entire cultural hall of restless children, gabby teenagers, and -- well, you get the picture. Some of the lines and much of the solo music was inaudible.
The cast was spirited. Of the main leads, the narrator Ezra Cooper (played by Richard Young) was warm and funny (if a bit stiff on some movements); the female ingenue (Megan Walker) was very good -- the fact that she carried over the background noise during her solo musical numbers was especially welcome. Many of the supporting characters were quite entertaining -- the squabbling couple, the peddler, the ingenue's best friend -- and the town leaders, "President Garrison" and "Brother Allen" (played by Boyd Hale), carryied that stiff Mormon authoritorial tone just right.
The group numbers were very well choreographed and rehearsed. You could tell they'd put in a lot of hard work; those numbers were complex. The group muscial numbers were surprisingly good and carried quite well over the background noise. They were my favorite part of the evening.
As for the play itself, I remember being disappointed in it when I first saw it back in the mid-1970s. I think I understand why now.
The theme of the play is "brotherly love," but in many respects it's about the central conflict in Mormonism (as Eugene England has stated) of the individual vs. the Zion community. But the play only deals with this powerful issue on all but the most superficial level. And cheats at that.
Above all, there is the problem with the play's final denouement. The play makes a big deal fo the the headstrong ingenue finally learning the errors of her selfish ways and rejoining the order. Yet, this is really a deathbed repentance -- she comes to this decision not through any real change on her own but because of the death of her sorrow. Grief and infatuation of a Orderville boy -- but not a true conversion, true commitment on her part -- cause her to return.
The only true change of heart comes from the folks who falter and leave the order at the end. Those who were steadfast before (the Coopers) are still steadfast, if abandoned. Those who weren't, weren't -- and I include the ingenue in that assessment.
The final scene of the play is a false feel-good resolution. Just after everyone pulls out of the order, grabbing what they can, suddenly they're hugging and singing brotherly lovey-dovey about "a little less me and a little more you." But we know they've just succumbed to greed and selfishness and left the town. It really rings false to me. There were all sorts of resolutions the authors could have come up with that would have worked. This wasn't it.
Overall, though, it was an enjoyable evening. I was heartened to see an interest in Mormon arts and the enthusiasm and excitement it can bring. As much as I like AML and the list, it was good to step away for a moment from our sometimes rarified discussion and spend an evening with our grassroot audience. I learned quite a bit.
Lee Allred email@example.com
© 1997 Lee Allred < firstname.lastname@example.org >