Perhaps the most effective method of satire is using the idea of the burlesque: something so extreme and repulsive that what appears to be well is inverted to convey the negative.
In its 35th season, the Salt Lake Acting Company's "Saturday's Voyeur" utilizes just that. Its traditional assault on conservatism is on full display when the audience is taken back in time to Election Day, Nov. 6. The musical takes place in the Church Office Building on various floors including the fabled underground passages.
The plot focuses on a few groups of Mormons excited that Mitt Romney will win the election. Their disillusion is reinforced by invocations of GOP strategist Karl Rove, assuring the victory and implying there is a monolithic movement occurring toward traditional family values.
The family values are embodied by Gayle Godzika, played by Ed Madson. Godzika, a caricature of Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka, can't remember how many kids she had, and her physical appearance a protruding upper chest and generously proportioned mid-section was often enough to bring laughter from the outset. Her actions embody conservative and Mormon beliefs, but also are conveyed to the extreme, which draws laughs and equally discerning questions about how much family values should play in politics.
The duo that produced the most laughs were two soon-to-be 19-year-olds, MoHanna and MoBella, played by Kalyn West and Leah Hassett. Both seek the attention of two other Mormon males but are stunned when the age for girls to go on missions is lowered. They go through a series of clever one-liners and are often featured throughout the performance as sex-starved young women who fight against their faith.
The girls are tempted by two Mormon boys who are Democrats which comes as a shock to MoBella and MoHanna. While the majority of the cast is preaching conservative ideas such as protecting gun rights and lowering taxes on the wealthy, Nephi Jensen and Bud Rasmussen provide the juxtaposing view of the country. They claim they are the only ones to care about the pollution of Utah and lambaste Utah's poor education spending numbers as proof that a Republican Party in charge isn't the right choice.
The Obama administration was not immune, however, to the satire. Subtle jabs were taken by referencing the NSA surveillance, and likening his presidency to the brown smog of Utah skies.
John Swallow, Utah's attorney general under investigation for dealings with indicted and imprisoned Utah businessmen, was also referenced when any of the cast members spoke about gifts.
The musical's strengths are its excellent character traits of the lead characters and the many cultural allusions that keep an audience hooked for the 2 1/2-hour performance. Allen Nevins and Nancy Borgenicht deftly command the political commonplace to draw from topics ranging from Boy Scouts to abortion. And if talking politics isn't your idea of a good time, the music is equally entertaining. Among other parodies is a fun rendition of CollegeHumor's, "Mitt Romney Style."
But what's important to think about is the rather pointed satire of the conservative versus liberal agendas. Pay attention to the end as the groups can't talk out differences, nor can even begin to.
After 35 years, "Saturday's Voyeur" may be even more important to begin those discussions.
Twitter: @ mappelgate206
When » Through Sept. 1. Wednesday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1 and 6 p.m.
Where » Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City
Tickets » $39-$55. Call 801-363-7522 or visit www.saltlakeactingcompany.org for more information.