The Book of Mormon is a wildly irreverent musical from the team who made South Park a cult classic. Matt Stone and Trey Parker worked on the show with Robert Lopez from Avenue Q. You might remember Avenue Q which had the rudest, crudest, funniest puppets you are ever likely to encounter. It will come as no surprise then that the show is full of bad language and pokes fun at just about everything from religion to The Lion King.
It is set in a remote Ugandan village where two hapless, and hopeless, Mormons arrive on service. The missionaries are out to share their version of the scriptures and to convert the locals. Meanwhile the locals are far more concerned with real life issues like famine, poverty and AIDS to care much about the finer points of religion.
The peppy, eternally optimistic pair seem like children, who really don’t begin to understand the world around them. Now that description makes it sound a bit worthier, and possibly more thoughtful than it actually is! It does kind of make the point that the rest of the world might see Americans in this way, like bumbling foolish children, but the show is far less critical of the Ameri-centric world view than this might suggest. It is an affectionate teasing of all that the USA hold dear, rather than lambasting polemic. Above all the show never fails to capitalise on any opportunity for a laugh, so crude language and fart jokes are all part of the mix.
It has made a big hit with London audiences, recently winning the Evening Standard on line poll as Best Night Out. However it missed out on Best Musical in the actual Evening Standards Awards which went to the rather more worthy, and totally sold out, Merrily We Roll Along.
The Book of Mormon Theatre Breaks?
I’m not sure it will appeal to a wide audience for theatre breaks but if you saw and loved Avenue Q then it might be for you. I could see it going down well for a younger audience but it does have an 18+ rule so the 15 or 16 year old boys that might love the humour can’t see it. Still 26 is the new 16 so that mid twenties audience is really likely to enjoy it most. It’s not my cup of tea really, as you might tell from this post, but if it’s yours then theatre breaks are available.
You can get an idea of what the show is like from this video:
You can tell that it is far from hard hitting and anti-religion, given that the Mormons (Church of the Latter Day Saints) themselves have an advert in the programme! This show is not out to change the world or even be at all political. It is all about laughing with, rather than at the ‘heroes’. I can’t really recommend it but then I’m not really their target audience. I never understood the appeal of South Park but if you did than this show might be just what you are looking for. The music is surprisingly good, as is the staging and choreography. It is just too All American for me.