From the writers of South Park amd Avenue Q comes this irreverent and long-running musical, which has been in residence in London since 2013.
After the jaunty opening number, “Hello”, which includes the Mormon brand of smiles, faith, and eternal optimism, Elders Price and Cunningham are paired up and sent on their mission to Uganda.
This is resolutely un-PC stuff – even before the men board the plane someone dresses up to “sing like an African” in the style of The Lion King, and in residence, the villagers have a song to cope with their famine, disease, and pedophilia, which translates as “F*** You, God”.
Jesus doesn’t escape, either, with his blonde ringlets and white robe, stopping off on the days between Crucifixion and Resurrection to leave the third instalment of the Bible with a doomed people in the USA.
With a glittery song and dance number for the gay Mormon leader and his henchman, and a very sexualised baptism, this show does not shy away from the intent to shock; and a liberal scattering of expletives of the f and c word varieties seems primed to offend.
Still, this is very funny stuff, and in the leading Elders it has men you can root for – Price is self-centred and obsessed with Orlando, Cunningham is a sci-fi fanatic whose interpretation of the titular book stretches to including hobbits, the Starship Enterprise, and a tall tale involving the healing property of frogs.
The songs are all set to Broadway-style tunes, and range from solos for Price (“Mostly Me” and “I Believe”), Cunningham (“Man Up”) and the African girl whose name gets mangled as Jon Bon Jovi, Nutella, Neutrogena and No Deal Brexit (“Salt Lake City”) to the big ensemble numbers and even a show within a show (shades of Tuptim’s effort in The King and I).
If you are not easily offended, this show is a comic riot, well-performed and unapologetically filthy. The orchestra works hard, and the set design, although deceptively simple, manages to bring together a host of locations, including a bad taste version of Hell.
The Book of Mormon continues to run at the Prince of Wales. Judging by the enthusiastic reception it received at yesterday’s show, it won’t be closing any time soon.
Photo credits Johan Persson.