Theatre Review: The Book of Mormon
Currently showing at London’s Prince of Wales theatre is the religious satire musical The Book of Mormon from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q co-composer/lyricist Robert Lopez. It tells the story of two Mormon missionaries, one devout and one of whom hasn’t actually read the Book of Mormon, who find themselves sent on a mission to Uganda which, as it turns out, is nothing like The Lion King. That’s as much as I’ll say about the plot as I don’t want to give stuff away.
First of all, believe the hype, this show is absolutely brilliant. Secondly, if you’re easily offended this isn’t the show for you. Let’s start with the musical numbers which were, quite frankly, superb. The musical composition, lyrics, choreography and lighting cues were all spot on. If you were ever in doubt that Parker and Stone could pull off a full scale musical put that doubt to rest as this was as top notch as any other show you’d see on the West End.
The cast, including original first North American tour players Gavin Creel and Jared Gertner reprising their lead roles, were faultless, everyone bringing depth and emotion to their roles. Alexia Khadime and Gertner were outstanding, nearly bringing me to tears, and I don’t cry easily. It was definitely more like an ensemble piece rather than leads and chorus which made it feel more like watching a play than a big, flashy show. The script moved along at a neat pace and deftly combined humour, drama and social commentary. The dramatic and emotional moments never felt out of place and perhaps had more impact due to the overall comedy of the piece. There are many non-PC jokes in there but those familiar with Parker and Stone’s works will know that they are never crass simply for the sake of it, there’s always a point to be made.
Something that was really great about the show was the theatre itself which is actually relatively small meaning great views for everyone. Our seats were in the upper circle with only two rows behind us so I was a little worried that our view of the stage would be impeded but we could see everything down to the fabric detail of costumes. There was quite a large queue outside when we arrived but the staff were great and had everyone in and seated within a couple of minutes. For a West End show, ticket prices were very reasonable. We opted for a midweek matinee which cost £48, I believe evening performance prices are around £96. The most common availability for tickets is midweek matinee and if you book more than 12 weeks in advance there’s no booking fee. To make sure of genuine tickets I used their official partner TheatrePeople who sent us our tickets promptly, arriving just two days after I booked them.
I can’t recommend this show highly enough, if you’ve ever thought that you might want to see it, please do as it’s wonderful. If I could have stayed for the evening performance I would have. A definite, highly deserved 5 stars.