The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London

This is one of the West End shows my mother has been nagging me to go see with her since it came to London in 2013, and it was always something we never got round to doing. Last week, we were finally in the same city long enough to organise to see it. And I'm so glad we did, because it's fantastic. 

I went in having no real idea of what the play was actually about, what any of the songs were. I knew that the musical was written by the guys who created South Park, so I expected crass humour and lots of inappropriateness. That is definitely what I got, but it was done in a rather clever way. The writers have described the musical as "an athetist's love letter to God" and I can completely see where they're coming from with this. It is mocking religion, or at least organised religion, but it's not malicious.

The musical follows two young nineteen year old missionaries, Elders Price and Cunningham, as they are sent to Uganda to spread the message of the Latter Day Saints. While Elder Cunningham is excited to be going to Africa, because he thinks it's going to be like the Lion King, Elder Price is actually quite confused. He prayed to God asking to be sent to Orlando, Florida, and can't come to terms with the fact his prayers weren't answered, considering everyone always tells him how perfect a Mormon he is, so why would God not give him what he asked? 

As the musical progresses, we see the boys' journey of faith. Elder Cunningham has never read the Book of Mormon, doesn't really understand a lot of it, but he has a good heart, even though he does occasionally lie. His journey, growing into a figure the Ugandan villagers listen to, is intertwined with Elder Price's wavering faith. All his life, Elder Price has been planning to have an extraordinary mission, to make his family proud and other Mormons jealous of his success. Turning up in a war-torn, poverty-stricken country filled with people who have no interest in pretty words and learning about how to live a pure life was not the plan. Now he isn't the centre of attention, now Elder Cunningham is getting through to the villagers while none of the other Mormons in the mission post can. 

Both characters are funny and likable in their own ways, even though Elder Price has an ego the size of the moon. We can relate to his competitive nature, his want to be recognized for his hard work. We can relate to Elder Cunningham's craving to fit in, to be good at something, to not let anyone down. 

Another important character in the musical is Nabulungi, one of the Ugandan villagers. Her journey of faith begins when she first hears the gospel Elders Price and Cunningham preach, and she is the one who is brave enough to organise the other villagers into giving the Mormons a chance to teach them. Naive and optimistic, Nabulungi is a wonderful character; naive and innocent, she just wants to find a safe refuge, something to believe in.

Everyone is rather spectacular as an ensemble, but my favourite character has to be Elder Price. He has the best songs, such as "You and Me (But Mostly Me)" and "I Believe". They were definitely the highlights for me. "Hasa Diga Eebowai", "Turn It Off" and "Hello" are also particular favorites, though the entire soundtrack is strong. My sister and I have been playing all the songs for days now. 

This musical has to be taken with a pinch of salt, and if you get easily offended about religion this play is most definitely not for you. My dad was genuinely offended by this play, but that's cause he's a prude and can't take a joke about anything. My mum, who used to be a Mormon, loved it as she could see the humorous side of it all. I plan to go back very soon, and will be telling everyone I know to go see it. I recommend listening to the soundtrack if you're not sure, as it is awesome even by itself.

Share on Google Plus

About Rachel Kelly

This is a short description in the author block about the author. You edit it by entering text in the "Biographical Info" field in the user admin panel.
    Blogger Comment


Post a Comment