Wednesday 23 August 2017

Theatre Review: The Book of Mormon

Last Updated: 03 June 2024

Funny, entertaining, yet with a strong message to share - on the surface, The Book of Mormon may seem like any other run-of-the-mill musical. However, there is much more to this story than may originally meet the eye.

Last Wednesday, 16th August, I headed down to London with a friend to catch the day's matinee performance of the show. Going to see Mormon had been his choice, yet being the theatre junkie that I am, I was more than happy to tag along. Unusually for me, I didn't have very much background knowledge of the show at all. To tell the truth, I barely knew the songs, let alone the storyline. This actually made for quite a refreshing change as I was able to fully take in the show and judge it entirely on its own merits rather than having to bow down to prior influence and a preconceived notion of the performance.

However, this being the show that it is, my ignorance meant that I was guaranteed to be in with a lot of surprises as the afternoon wore on.

Satire with a Dash of Humour

The Book of Mormon tells the story of two young Mormons, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, who are dispatched to Africa to complete their religious mission and preach to the local people. Of course, nothing goes to plan, and the pair soon find themselves on a journey of discovery alongside the very people they have been sent to try and convert.

However, satire and stereotypes are the order of the day when it comes to establishing humour within the story, meaning that there is barely a stone left unturned when it comes to satirising people, places, culture and much more. The humour walks a thin tightrope between funny and offensive, at times see-sawing between the two. As you would expect from the knowledge that Mormon was dreamed up by the creators of South Park, some of the humour is quite crass and crude. Luckily, though, the cheap laughs are interspersed with some great lines and moments of real laugh-out-loud fun.

Songs, Characters and More

Although the storyline is rather predictable, this doesn't take away from the fact that this is a great piece of theatre for many other reasons. Aside from the humour and fantastic script, the variety and depth of characters are also great. From the polar opposites of Elders Price and Cunningham to the desperation of the villagers and Nabulungi's hopes and dreams, each character has their own individual story to tell.

In addition, as a fully-fledged musical in its own right, the songs definitely don't disappoint either. Whether it is the inherent catchiness of 'Turn it Off' or the satire of 'Hasa Diga Eebowai', the songs, lyrics and accompanying music are all perfectly suited to the story. However, the stand-out performance of the night went to the big number 'Spooky Mormon Hell Dream'. The staging, choreography, set and costumes all added up to create a memorable showpiece which was more than worthy of being crowned the number of the night.

If it's entertainment you're looking for, then you have definitely come to the right place. Say goodbye to the era of family-friendly musicals and instead, welcome Mormon into your life for an afternoon (or evening) of refreshingly non-PC fun.

Have you seen The Book of Mormon? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. Great review Lorna. I saw this a few years back and loved every second of it. Trying to find an excuse to go back and see it again. Easily the funniest show on in the West End!

    1. Couldn't agree more - thanks for the kind words Rachel!