Theatre Review: The Book Of Mormon - Prince Of Wales Theatre ✭✭✭✭✭

The Book Of Mormon

Prince Of Wales Theatre

Review by Emma Curry

Tuesday 2nd April 2013: Tickets for this show are like gold dust at the moment, so if you manage to get hold of one, don’t give it up for anything! This new musical, written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of South Park fame), and Robert Lopez (responsible for the songs in Avenue Q), is a rude, shocking, hilarious, and actually rather sweet show that will leave you dancing, singing, and, rather surprisingly, feeling pretty enthusiastic about religion at the end.

The story focuses on two Mormon missionaries – the toothy, clean-cut, over-achieving Elder Price (Gavin Creel), and his unexpected (and unwanted) partner, nerdy loner Elder Cunningham (Jared Gertner) – who are sent to Uganda in the hope of educating the locals on the teachings of the Book of Mormon. When their arrival receives a less than enthusiastic response, Elder Cunningham begins to invent his own version of the story that involves several borrowings from Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Whilst the Mission President is none too impressed with the result, Elder Cunningham and Price both begin to realise that the story itself is less important than the response it invokes. By the end of the show the villagers feel empowered enough by their new beliefs to reclaim their homes and banish the local warlord (named, delightfully, General Buttfuckingnaked).

The musical has provoked controversy in some quarters for its fruity language and satirical tone, but its overall message is actually pretty conservative: belief, despite seeming rather wacky from the outside, can actually do some rather wonderful things for people. Indeed, instead of being offensive to any particular ‘group’, the story takes shots at almost everyone, and in such a light-hearted and joyful tone that it is impossible to feel too outraged by any of the content.

The songs are a huge part of any musical, and they are a real strength of this show: wittily-worded, instantly catchy, and impressively staged. It’s tough choosing my favourite, but if pushed I’d probably be torn between ‘Turn it Off’, the Mormon missionaries’ hilariously upbeat response to ‘unpleasant’ emotions; or ‘Spooky Mormon Hell Dream’, a spectacularly-produced musical staging of hell with amazing costumes, hysterical lyrics, and cameo appearances from famous villains of history (including Hitler, Genghis Khan, and Robert Kardashian (!)). The ensemble do a brilliant job in these bigger numbers; and the production is slick and faultless throughout.

The show really belongs to Creel and Gertner though: both are fantastic in the lead roles, with Creel switching effortlessly between Elder Price’s early zeal and later disillusionment with the religion he has committed his life to; and Gertner adorably embodying the big-hearted loner who, against the odds, manages to bring together the people around him. Special mention too to Alexia Khadime as villager Nabulungi, who is the first to respond to Elder Cunningham’s stories and brings a much-needed emotional nuance to proceedings; and Stephen Ashfield, who is just plain hilarious as the closeted Mission leader, Elder McKinley.

If you can get a ticket, then, don’t miss this show. It’s hilarious and heart-warming, and I guarantee it will brighten up any bad day!

Five stars ✭✭✭✭✭

Listings information

Theatre: Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London, W1D 6AS

Performance schedule: Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm 
                                    Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm 
                                    (first Wednesday matinee on 6 March 2013)

Ticket PricesFrom 1 April 2013: £37.50 - £67.50 
                        All ticket prices include a £1 theatre restoration levy 

Lottery: At each performance lottery tickets will be available at £20 each. Entries to the lottery will be accepted in person at the Box Office two and a half hours prior to each performance. Names will be drawn at random two hours before each performance. Check website for further details.
Lottery tickets are subject to availability.

Box Office: 0844 4825110 

Twitter @bookofmormonldn 
Facebook The Book of Mormon – West End