The Book of Mormon (QPAC) – theatre review

The sound of doorbells chiming is ringing across Brisbane, for as the advertising warned, the Mormons are coming! Far from the polite, mild-mannered suburban Mormons you may have encountered in your actual home, the tale of these missionaries will likely drop your jaw and curl your toes. And leave you in hysterics, of course.

From the pens of South Park’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker, it really shouldn’t be a surprise to hear swearing deftly woven into cleverly crafted song lyrics, or that Jesus sounds an awful lot like Terence or Philip; or even when the song about repressing your darkest feelings turns into a tap-dance and sequin sensation. But somehow, even during a repeat viewing of this production, these elements manage to raise an eyebrow or choke someone on their chuckle.

For the uninitiated, The Book of Mormon is a ‘traditional’ musical complete with soaring power-ballads and toe-tapping snappy choruses. It tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries – Elder Price and Elder Cunningham – sent on their first overseas post together to Uganda, to share the word of the Heavenly Father. These young idealists know about as much about Africa as can be learned by watching The Lion King, and have the worldly outlook of Snow White.

Unfortunately, the people of Uganda have endured a bit too much hardship of late, and their ‘hakuna matata’ attitude is rated for Mature Audiences (strong language). The Elders have their work cut out for them… and that’s before they meet the General, who is hellbent on mutilating every woman in the town.

I won’t reveal much more of the story, because you really will enjoy it a whole lot more without spoilers – just sit back and enjoy the impropriety, swearing, hilarity and snappy writing.

The cast is mostly male, which is played for laughs as well but the show isn’t lacking in any gloss or grandeur. The live band covers a wide range of music genres, from accompaniment to twee barbershop harmonies and tribal singalongs, all the way to rock anthems complete with air guitar, and lots of dramatic bursting into song in between. The staging and costuming are economical but effective, as most of the action takes place in the Ugandan village with a short sojourn to Hell thrown in for a change of scenery.

If you’re up for a no-holds-barred, shamelessly inappropriate comedy that mocks pretty much every minority (and majority) group you can imagine, you’re going to love The Book of Mormon. Could be a bit awkward as a first date though…

The Book of Mormon is showing at QPAC, Brisbane until 31 May 2019. If you miss out on tickets, bear in mind the production will be back in Brisbane for a limited run in January 2020.

Belinda Yench

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