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Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON, Edinburgh Playhouse

Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON, Edinburgh Playhouse

A hilarious and wonderfully offensive musical from the creators of South Park and the songwriter from Avenue Q and Frozen

The Book of MormonIt might be impossible not to have heard about the musical, The Book of Mormon. Unless you've been locked away from the world for the last couple of years. Oh well, pandemic aside, this show needs almost no introduction.

For those of you who would like one, let me tell you about The Book of Mormon, currently on tour in Edinburgh. First off, this isn't a show for someone who has a problem with swearing or is easily offended. The show's writers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone were responsible for South Park. I grew up watching this particular TV show, laughing at the gaudy, bawdy way they see the world and poke fun at the many terrible things humans do. In this reguard, The Book of Mormon is no different.

The story is: two young Mormons, Elder Price (Robert Colvin - what a voice) and Elder Cunningham (Conner Peirson) have just finished training to be Mormon missionaries. This is a practise for young Mormon men who are deemed worthy to go out into the world and preach.

Elder Price is an upstanding young man. The best in his class. Admired by all. He wants to be sent to Orlando for his mission and he has prayed hard for that. Instead, the prayers of Elder Cunningham, a short, messy, habitual liar, are answered. He prayed they would be sent somewhere together and that's exactly what they get. Not to Orlando, however, but to Uganda.

When they arrive they have their bags stolen by the local war lord and meet the natives who tell them that life here is pretty terrible. This is a land beset with petty wars, AIDS and female genital mutilation. But in Uganda there is a saying, "Hasa Diga Eebowei" . No, it doesn't mean no worries for the rest of your days, as Elder Cunnigham asks. It means nothing of the sort, the town elder explains (played by Ewen Cummins with expert comic timing). The man points his middle finger to the sky and states plainly that it translates as "F*** you, God".

Things don't look better for our two young men when they meet the rest of the Mormon missionaries in the village. Nothing is going well for any of them in this part of the world. But it's okay. Another of their number, Elder McKinley (Jordan Lee Davies) explains, Mormons have a special power to "Turn It Off". By this they mean take any doubts, worries or bad feelings and turn them off like a light. Elder McKinley makes great use of this himself to hide his own, closted homosexual feelings. The flair with which Jordan Lee Davies plays his character steals the show a number of times.

Things look bleak for everyone on stage. How will they save the village from the War Lord? How will the Mormon Missionaries survive their inspection by the Mission President?

Elder Price goes his own way to fix things but it is Elder Cunningham who comes into his own, trying to convert the locals with his own, peculiar brand of Mormonism as he sings, "Making it Up Again". Conner Peirson has a wonderful singing voice and exudes physical comedy from every pore.

The main theme of this show is about community and there's a little sprinkling of how religion can bring you together in weird and wonderful ways. Some might feel there is too much controversy here, but it seems to me that the writers are lampooning not one group but all groups and all things in equal measure.

We ask ourselves why a people should care about a troup of white saviours who want to introduce God to them? Especially when they have bigger fish to fry and harder lives than the American visitors could have imagined. And what happens when they are promised paradise, a place and a way to get out of their situation? Reality hits as they are told it was only ever meant to be in their hearts and minds. Absolutely no one is actually going to take them to the safer, beautiful town of, "Sal Tlay Ka Siti", sung by the immensely talented Aviva Tulley, whose voice rang out and took my breath away.

Overall the music is on point, with great tunes and hilarious lyrics. My only small wish would be that some of the microphones were a little louder so I could catch all the witticisms. I really didn't want to miss any small part.

There are no duff moments in this show. Every song is well-written and brilliantly delivered by the incredible cast. The acting was funny and the jokes, though outrageous and equal-opportunities offensive, were fabulous. The house was uproarous with pleasure and the standing ovation at the end was utterly deserved. Go and see it. You'd best, lest you end up with a "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream". No thanks.

The Book of Mormon is at The Edinburgh Playhouse until October 9

Photo Credit: Edinburgh Playhouse



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From This Author - Stefanie Lyons


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