Review: The Book of Mormon, The Prince of Wales Theatre- London

By Helena Iciek 


If you’re not into musicals- go and see this one. 

Beginning on Broadway in 2011, The Book of Mormon, has consistently entertained and shocked audiences across theatres for approaching 10 years now- and the hype surrounding it has yet to decline. Written by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone, the production follows two missionaries, Elder Price (Dom Simpson) and Elder Cunningham (Tom Xander) to Uganda, where they are sent to try and convert a small village to the Mormon religion. This mission, as expected, does not go as smoothly as they would like. The pair know nothing about the environment to which they are introduced, which leads to an abundance of controversial surprises and misunderstandings. 

Simpson and Xander perfectly depict the common dynamic of the serious and the not-so-serious being paired together, creating a comically incompatible duo. Both actors accurately convey their character’s stereotypes: Simpson as the obnoxious and overly confident western man coming to ‘save the day’, and Xander as the endearing, bumbling sidekick. As well as the two main actors, Leanne Robinson impressively depicts the character of Nabulungi, a villager who is interested in converting to the Mormon religion. Robinson successfully impresses the audience with both her singing ability, as well as her ability to get you to root for her character. Though, the cast as a whole is perfectly in sync which only adds to the comedy of the entire performance. 

For those who don’t tend to enjoy going to musicals, forget your current conceptions as this production both conforms to yet completely defies the genre. The Book of Mormon presents familiar-sounding, energetic and upbeat numbers, with songs parodying those from shows such as The Lion King, Wicked, and The Sound of Music. However, their satirical nature contains none of the child-friendly and generally light-hearted lyrics. Whilst most musicals create humour through spoken dialogue, almost every number within this production will also have you bent over with laughter from their shocking lines- just make sure you’re composed enough to catch the next one. It is through the use of peppy songs, heavily veiled with dark or mocking tones, that the writers and performers create perfectly timed sarcasm to poke fun at the pillars of the Mormon religion, as well cultural differences and the reductive views of certain characters. 

Of course, The Book of Mormon is famous for its provocative nature and offensive jokes; the only times you’ll stop laughing is when you’re covering your mouth and your jaw is hitting the ground as you think “did they just say that?” Before I went to see this performance, I was told to prepare to wince and wince I did. Name a controversial subject and it is probably light-heartedly sung about in a Disney-style fashion or rather bluntly visually depicted, whether it be religion, disease or violence. So this musical certainly is not for everyone. Yet the jokes are so cleverly timed and written, that it is clear that malice is not the intent. If you do go to see it knowing what to expect, you will be sure to leave quoting stand-out one-liners and hilarious lyrics (even if it is under your breath).