Book of Mormon

Rating: ★★★★
Venue: Prince of Wales Theatre, London
Cast: Oliver Jacobson, Dom Simpson, Aviva Tulley, Steven Webb, Richard Lloyd King, Gavin Alex and Edward Baruwa 

The Book of Mormon musical first opened on Broadway in 2011 before it made its London theatre debut in 2013. The plot of the laugh-out-loud musical follows two Mormon missionaries, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, as they work to spread the word of the church of the Latter-Day Saints. Based in a small town in Uganda, the Mormon pair attempt to navigate a whole new landscape while working on a mission to convert the inhabitants to their religion — with hilarious results.

I'm making a conscious effort this year to see productions that are outside of my comfort zone - and Book of Mormon was at the top of my list of shows I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy. But, boy was I wrong! As it's from the same team behind South Park, I was expecting it to be outrageously inappropriate. It goes without saying that I wasn't wrong about that particular aspect.

The show begins and we're introduced to our main characters, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham. This unexpected duo have been paired together for their Mission as Mormons. And their first mission as companions is in...Uganda. While Elder Cunningham is ever optimistic, Elder Price is his polar opposite. While Price is deflated and disappointed, Cunningham is over enthusiastic and excitable.

Their Mission leads them to a village that doesn't quite see God in the highest regard (that may be the understatement of the year). And the pair have their work cut out for them. Especially when one of them falls in love with local girl, Nabulungi. Their Mission is truly bonkers and you're left wondering how the next scene is going to top the last; yet it somehow always seems to.

For me, Richard Lloyd King as Mafala Hatimbi and Aviva Tulley as Nabulungi were the stars of the show. King's comedic timing and character was nothing short of perfection. And Aviva's voice is absolutely breath-taking. Tulley's rendition of "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" was both hilarious and simply stunning. And King leading the version of "Hasa Diga Eebowai" was exceptional and one of my favourite musical theatre performances I've seen. 

Other songs worth mentioning are "Turn It Off", "Joseph Smith American Moses" and of course, "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream". The references to the likes of Dahmer and Hitler were both shocking but outrageously funny; especially paired with the over-the-top depiction of Hell. And a special mention to "Man Up", which is like a mini Tenacious D concert. Props to Jacobson who delivers this song exceptionally. 

As far as the staging goes, it wasn't something that left me feeling particularly awed, but I thought the depictions of Africa and Hell were very cleverly done, in comparison to the rest of the show.

As a show that's supposed to be about Mormons, I found the people of Uganda were the best part of the show; and I'm not sure I've ever laughed as hard as I did at the, "Joseph Smith American Moses" scene.

I went into the show expecting to be horrified by parts of the show, but that wasn't the case. It treads a very fine line throughout, and for me, it didn't overstep the mark. However, if you're easily offended, this may not be the show for you. Hitler receiving head from a Mormon isn't something I ever expected to see, but I digress

It's a lot of fun and it needs to be taken for what it is. A light-hearted musical comedy from a team of writers that love to push boundaries. Be prepared for a lot of laughs and a whole load of shocks! I would highly recommend a visit to this long-running West End musical.

Book tickets to see Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, here.

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