Daft and utterly chaotic, this edgy satire promises one hell of a good time – ★★★★★
Hello! The young Mormon missionaries exclaim in the catchy opening number to The Book of Mormon. For a musical rammed with flagrant blasphemy, such a friendly welcoming song is amusing for its obvious contradiction.
The Book of Mormon continues South Park and Avenue Q creators Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone’s catalogue of risky and offensive comedy, with references to the trio’s previous work on show throughout.
First and foremost, the musical is predominantly character-driven (with the narrative slightly stagnating in the second act) and much like the protagonist Princeton in Avenue Q, main character Elder Price (Dom Simpson) is quick to use a number to elaborate on his supposed ‘mission’ or ‘purpose’. The South Park influences are apparent too, with Price’s sidekick Elder Cunningham (Tom Xander) possessing an enthusiastic, high-pitched voice not too dissimilar to Eric from the popular cartoon series.
The aforementioned mission is for the two Mormons to visit Uganda to tell people living there about “the book of Jesus Christ”, with Price’s formality clashing with Cunningham’s wild imagination and immaturity in an extreme and simply bonkers way.
Comedy in the face of pure sincerity is the underlying premise at the heart of this musical, and credit must be given to Simpson and Xander for forming a brilliant double act on stage which fulfils that purpose. Simpson’s Price is strict and self-centred with a powerful voice to boot (look no further than the appropriately titled You And Me (But Mostly Me) for an example), while Xander’s Cunningham regularly breaks this down with comic relief and incredible tangents (such as his push to be more masculine in Man Up and his exploration with lying in the brilliantly elaborate Making Things Up Again).
Other notable numbers include Turn It Off – where an enthusiastic Steven Webb as Elder McKinley leads an impressive ensemble with Casey Nicholaw’s choreography, and Baptize Me, where young woman Nabulungi (Leanne Robinson) delivers a strong performance alongside Cunningham.
With shocking and controversial humour, The Book of Mormon will make you laugh, gasp and squirm – as if you too have maggots in your scrotum.
The Book of Mormon is now playing at The Prince of Wales Theatre.