Theatre Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON – Palace Theatre, Manchester

THE BOOK OF MORMON. UK touring company. Photo Criedit: Paul Coltas

THE BOOK OF MORMON. UK touring company. Photo Criedit: Paul Coltas

Damnably clever, brilliantly conceived and superbly executed, THE BOOK OF MORMON is one of the funniest and clever musicals of the last decade.

5 out of 5 stars

Smash hit musical THE BOOK OF MORMON makes a welcome return to Manchester’s Palace Theatre this week. The Tony Award-winning show enjoyed a sold-out stint in 2019 when it opened its first UK tour at the venue with extra dates added several times due to high demand.

Written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, in collaboration with Robert Lopez, THE BOOK OF MORMON follows the misadventures of Elder Price (Robert Colvin) and Elder Cunningham (Conner Peirson), a mismatched pair of Latter-day Saint missionaries who are sent to a remote Ugandan village to preach the faith of the Church.

The young men go in hope but are soon challenged by the local’s lack of interest, who are distracted by more pressing issues such as HIV/AIDS, famine, female genital mutilation, and oppression by the local warlord.

Those familiar with Parker and Stone’s SOUTH PARK and Lopez’s musical AVENUE Q will know to expect comedy that’s a little close to the bone here, and THE BOOK OF MORMON is no exception.

THE BOOK OF MORMON. UK touring company. Photo Criedit: Paul Coltas

THE BOOK OF MORMON. UK touring company. Photo Criedit: Paul Coltas

Described on the show’s posters as an “outrageous musical comedy” – outrageous it is! Profane, offensive, and potty-mouthed, THE BOOK OF MORMON is not for the easily offended, pushing the boundaries of good taste to the limit as it tackles subjects that many comedy writers would shy away from, including female circumcision, AIDS, and paedophilia.

Yet, there is so much more to this show than crudity and absurdity. Damnably clever, brilliantly conceived and superbly executed, THE BOOK OF MORMON is one of the funniest and clever musicals of the last decade.

Much of the show’s success lies in its irresistible, high-energy musical numbers, which pay homage to the golden age of Broadway. These wonderful set pieces and superb dance routines provoke audible gasps of disbelief from the audience for their ingenuity, comedy, and visual spectacle.

Highlights include a tale about doughnut theft that results in a vibrant visit to hell, a hilarious WE ARE AFRICA sequence that involves the entire ensemble and a spitting parody of the LION KING’S Hakuna Matata.

The cast is equally excellent, particularly Conner Peirson as Elder Cunningham, the loveable, overly happy, energetic Mormon with a big imagination.

THE BOOK OF MORMON. UK touring company. Photo Criedit: Paul Coltas

THE BOOK OF MORMON. UK touring company. Photo Criedit: Paul Coltas

Peirson’s chemistry with Robert Colvin, who plays Elder Price with great pomp and straightness, is natural and believable, making them the perfect double act in this astonishingly savage yet sophisticated satirical affair.

A special mention also must go to Aviva Tulley as Nabalungi, the young villager first to hear the Mormon message. Her wonderful, multi-layered performance brings much-needed poignancy to the show, and her touching performance SAL TLAY KA SITI, as well as the provocative duet, BAPTIZE ME stand out as highlights.

Of course, THE BOOK OF MORMON is open to interpretation, and you can spend time examining the themes or just enjoy it for what it is. Its style of comedy means that this is a musical that you will either love or hate. We loved it – as did the audience on press night – as demonstrated by the standing ovation at the end of the show.

THE BOOK OF MORMON runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, until 1st January 2022.