Book of Mormon
Life of Brian meets South Park in this outrageously funny musical; sex, religion, history, racism - all things you shouldn't find funny but they are, so give yourself permission to laugh out loud, no one here will judge you (well not yet anyhow).
The creators of anarchic ‘kids’ cartoon South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker have written one of the all time funniest musicals, jampacked with fun-poking, heckle-raising, unbridled (and unapologetic) attacks on one of the most elusive religions in America. In doing so, they have given the current ultra-PC society a fantastic escape where you can laugh out loud at bigotry, snort with derision at the fallacies of religion and struggle to breathe with the sheer ‘middle finger to tradition’.
The tale is of two Mormon missionaries, teenage boys who are destined, by their culture, to set out to a distant place and bring the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For our two starlets, Elder Price (the all American, god fearing, 3rd gen Mormon – played by Robert Colvin) and Elder Cunningham (the chubby misfit whose attempts to fit in lead him to fantasise on, or dare we say embellish, the teachings of Joseph Smith – played by Conner Peirson) their paths are mashed together and they are sent over to Uganda to attempt their conversion in deepest, darkest Africa.
Elder Price, the brightest Elder in his class, had long been hoping for his mission to be in Florida while Elder Cunningham had just been hoping not to be left behind and maybe make a friend, so their journey was not one either would have chosen, but they endeavour to do their very best. They soon reach the local Church mission, led by Elder McKinley (played in glorious technicolour and with more than a touch of Liberace by Jordan Lee Davies) and soon realise that their ethos for any feelings is simply 'Turn It Off'.
For anyone who has watched South Park (either the TV show or their 1999 feature movie Bigger, Longer, Uncut) you know that Stone and Parker will never shy away from ripping open society and inserting their own observations with a locker-room attitude. Origins of religion, Disney corporation and American obsession with their past are mashed up with FGM, racial oppression, homosexuality and even Brexit and given a high-octane make over with some brilliant songs and dance routines. Casey Nicholaw’s choreography and Colm O’Regan as musical director have created ‘Broadway plus’ with the showstopping scenes jam packed with glitz and glam; tap routines, tribal Baakisiimba (with rather different lyrics), a very bizarre spooky Mormon Hell dream and plenty of twerking make sure even the dancing has you in stiches.
Book of Mormon is, without doubt, for those who are not easily offended (or those who feel that in today’s climate they have become so desensitised that they need a big boot up the behind to remember how to be offended again). The audience reactions are split between laughing out loud and gasps of faux indignation but above all else, it is a wonderfully safe environment in which no one will judge you on what you find funny; let rip with the belly laughs, it's good for the soul.
Oh, and if you forget your white shirt and black tie, fear not - the brilliant program from John Good Limited has you covered
The Book of Mormon is running at Newcastle Theatre Royal until July 9th.