Jewish Telegraph, June 2019
The Book of Mormon
Not offended? Then you’ve not paid close attention to this brilliant production
Sometimes you can get yourself so hyped up for something that it is inevitably a huge letdown.
I’d been waiting a long time to see The Book of Mormon. I had been close to booking to see it in London, but then it was announced that it would be staged in Manchester.
I was so excited from the moment of its announcement a few months ago until I settled into my seat at the Palace Theatre. Then, in the 10 minutes before the lights dimmed, the dread arrived.
What if it didn’t live up to my expectations?
But from the opening scene I was hooked. The Book of Mormon is an absolute laugh riot — as long as you aren’t easily offended or a Mormon.
Kevin Clay and Conner Peirson as Elders Price and Cunningham, respectively, are superb.
Elder Price is hoping to be sent by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to missionise in Orlando.
But he is disappointed, to say the least, when he is instead given Uganda. To make it worse, he is to be accompanied by buffoon Elder Cunningham, who is prone to lying.
In Africa, things don’t go according to plan — especially when the pair have a run-in with the local warlord, whose name can’t be reproduced in a family newspaper.
I love outrageous comedy and I am hard to offend, but there were occasions when even I thought: “Did they really say that!”
Everyone is a target for writers Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone.
Jews, Christians, gays, straights, blacks, whites, Chinese and Mormons, especially Mormons, are on the end of the vicious, yet funny comedy.
It reminds me of the Curb Your Enthusiasm season when Larry David was due to star in a bad taste stage version of the Salman Rushdie fatwa saga, called Jihad . . . but with the outrageousness ramped up to 11.
Mel Brooks must be kicking himself for not thinking of The Book of Mormon first, although the creators must have see his The Producers and taken note of the song Keep it Gay as the campness is off the scale.
The hilarious musical number when Price and Cunningham meet their fellow missionaries in Uganda is full of pride with a capital P.
It’s hard to quote from the songs because of the X-rated content, but let’s just say anyone religious might take exception to the Ugandan villagers’ song.
The story sees the missionaries trying to convince the Ugandans to be baptised, but before Price and Cunningham’s arrival, a grand total of zero had undergone this religious process.
Cunningham’s wild imagination in rewriting Mormon history leads to the show’s biggest laugh-fest as the villagers perform an obscene version for the Mormon hierarchy (any frog should steer clear of the Palace until the Mormons have left).
The Spooky Mormon Hell Dream sequence is also a stunning over-the-top musical number featuring Hitler — who claims that what he did to the Jews isn’t as bad as Price breaking the Mormon curfew.
The whole cast was incredible, while special mention must go to Nicole-Lily Baisden as Nabulungi — who is lusted after by Cunningham, despite him not being able to pronounce her name.
Maybe Messrs Parker, Stone and Lopez could follow this with a more outrageous musical, The Book of Corbyn.
The Book of Mormon runs until August 24 — but tickets are hard to come by. It could run for a year and it would be sold out every night.
And if The Book of Mormon doesn’t offend you, then you haven’t been paying close enough attention.