The best gifts to give are ones you also benefit from, right? This Christmas, I bought my boyfriend tickets to see The Book of Mormon in London, for two reasons: 1) I thought he might like it, and 2) I really, really wanted to see it. Armed with a sense of humour and a tiny bottle of fizz, we submitted ourselves to the surreal creation of Trey Park, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone.
I’d heard it was funny, outrageously offensive and obnoxiously catchy. In short? It was all of those things, and I loved it. Here’s my little review, which might persuade some of you to see it for yourselves. My top tip? Go mid week – we went on a Monday, and got great seats for a decent price. Just be prepared to faint at the price list at the bar.
I had heard the musical’s story before hand, so without spoilers, here is a brief overview – it’s about mormons. Missionaries, and their attempts to save people who probably don’t want to be saved. I did find that throughout the musical, I wasn’t particularly surprised by any of the plot developments which was slightly disappointing. It was well written but a tad predictable at each step. Of course, for so many people, the story is secondary to the comedy and musical brilliance. I can’t imagine many people went to be moved by the story.
For a devoted musical lover, I had high hopes for the music. In fact, I absolutely loved the majority of songs – they were catchy, and the quality of singing completely surprised me. I think I had been resting on the comedy factor and initially expected the singing to be good, but not amazing – but I was really pleasantly surprised. The standout voice for our performance was certainly the character of Elder Cunningham, and he had some fantastic songs. I did find a couple of performances less enjoyable, but that didn’t take away from the performance quality.
The most memorable performance was ‘Turn it Off’, performed by the Mormon missionaries, with Elder McKinley stealing the show with every hair flick, sashay and finger click. The character was hilarious, and played perfectly. He received the most enthusiastic applause at the end, and it was truly deserved – a song worth seeing again.
So, how funny is The Book of Mormon? Is it really that offensive? Yes. Totally. There’s not really any subject that isn’t mocked, degraded or aggressively approached. It’s nothing short of shocking. After the interval, you’re welcomed back with an all-singing, all dancing number that definitely isn’t suitable for anyone of a sensitive disposition. It might cause an elderly grandparent to faint.
I found the comedy element – the show’s main selling point – well balanced. In fact, I enjoyed that throughout the show, there were jokes or lines that suddenly took you by surprise. Jokes that caused the whole theatre audience to gasp in shock or belly laugh. The opening was incredibly evident of South Park humour – the show’s creators being Parker and Stone – but I was pleased that it wasn’t the tone throughout.
Review – 4/5 Stars
The Book of Mormon made me laugh. It shocked me. And, it was good value for money. The songs, the performance quality and theatricality meant this was more than just a gimmick comedy trying to offend. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance, and would recommend it. But, I’m not sure I would see it again, in the same sense that I wouldn’t watch a comedy sketch on Netflix more than once – I know the jokes.