BOOK OF MORMON REVIEW FOUR AND A HALF STARS ★★★★1/2
Prince of Wales Theatre
The masterpiece has finally arrived to colonize London after huge success on Broadway and touring the USA. With the Book, Music and Lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez (South Park) and Matt Stone, it was obvious this was never going to be The Sound of Music. What you get is a highly innovative musical to thrill and please audiences – this adult show is hilarious, it’s Genius!
This flawless show satirises Mormonism and faith. From the moment the show begins, it wakes up every part of you. Each number is delivered with gusto, layered with fantastic choreography and shocking lyrics. The writing cleverly manages to coat the controversial topics in sugar, which makes you forget the crude and blasphemous lyrics you are singing and laughing along to.
The first number is fuelled with innocence as we are introduced to suit-wearing men with cheesy smiles – the Mormon Missionaries. They introduce themselves and their prized passion, ‘The book of Mormon’, pronouncing that “this book will change your life”.
Soon you are thrust full force into a musical that takes you on a hysterical journey from the backdrop of the American Dream (an overcrowded skyline, with skyscrapers and corporate banks and Coca Cola) to a tribal village in Uganda. The song ‘HasaDigaEebowai’ is filled with a high speed twist that makes Alton Towers look like a Kindergarten. The song is performed in such a soulful and joyful way, you have no idea what is coming next!
The two main characters, Elder Price, played by Gavin Creel, and Elder Cunningham, played by Hared Gertner, win you over from beginning to end with first-class performances.Their story begins when they are sent on a Mormon mission to Uganda, not quite the Orlando which they were expecting. Their mission exposes them to guns, women being circumcised and an Aids-ridden community which has no clean water! Their sweet smiles and sunshine-filled faith are not welcomed initially in the run-down African village. But that soon changes when Elder Cunningham begins to change The Book of Mormon to suit the people of the village.
The musical score just keeps giving as the Mormon men discreetly discuss ‘man-on-man’ feelings; this turns into a charming and side-splitting number called ‘Turn it off’, which suggests that it’s a Mormon trick to turn off certain feelings Mormon men may have about other men. It’s a pure antidote to those who do have judgemental views as surely their narrow viewswill be washed away with this number.
Not all the numbers are satirical, fast and hard-hitting. There are some ballads with just a slight sense of irony and comedy, like ‘Sal TlayKaSiti’, which proves to be a beautifully performed song by Alexia Khadime, who plays Nabulungi. She delivers the song with emotion and sincerity. She dreams of Sal TlayKaSiti. Of course, she has never been there, and imagines it as a perfect and happy place (as described by the missionaries). She Sings ‘I’m on my way, soon life won’t be so shitty, now salvation has a name: Sal TlayKaSiti’. This is followed by a heavy rock/musical number ‘Man up’, which sounds like something you would hear at a Guns and Roses concert, about Jesus taking things on the chin. This encourages the Mormons to ‘man-up’!
The direction by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker is faultless. The scenic Design by Scott Park deserves an award. But the real honour in this piece should go to Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, who have written a masterpiece.
There is some slight repetition in the humour and comedy. The man who has maggots in his scrotum is only funny the first time around. And the shock of obscenities is hilarious but when consistently repeated it tends to lose any strength or raison d’être. The ticket prices are high but it’s booking out way ahead which is not surprising as it’s a fantastic night at the theatre. If you don’t mind bad language and are up for a great show and a good laugh, this will not disappoint. This show delivers the most cutting-edge innovative musical in the world! Rush to see this as tomorrow may be a later day.