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The Book of Mormon

March 24, 2013

Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone‘s “The Book of Mormon” at the Prince of Wales Theatre is full of paradox. First let me take you back to last night at about 830 pm when the curtain came down on the first Act. “Dreadful” I thought. “Absolutely dreadful”. This was the antithesis of a good big West End Show. It was more like some kind of review that you would see “Off Broadway” which I think is the point. However at this point the second rate sounding small band and the very forgettable songs with lots of expletives, cheap sets and cartoon characters left me cold, especially on a trip to the West End at £85 a seat.

Although it could not possibly be worse, the second Act was better. There was at least some development of character and story and a couple of the songs were more memorable. Certainly more musical theatre. By far the best set pieces were a manic hell scene full of Star wars characters which really was a rip off from “South Park the movie“, and an African village re-enactment of the Book of Mormon, which spookily reminded me of the Uncle Tom cabin sequence in Rogers and Hammerstein‘s “The King and I”. Final curtain with an absolute crazy rapturous applause from a very appreciative first week West End Audience. I did think that Jared Gertner was good as the Cartmanesque Elder Cunningham and I loved Gavin Creel as the quirky young Alpha male Elder Price, who really did make me think of a young Mitt Romney. I did not join in the partial short standing ovation but I did applaud the efforts of a great cast.

This morning I woke up and I thought to myself. I quite like “The Book of Mormon” now I am not sitting in the theatre experiencing it. The message of the absolute nonsense of the religion and the idea that this is just part of a perpetual cycle of a new cult replacing an older established cult. The idea that what is religion except a set of collected values communicated through a series of metaphors to teach a collective way of living makes sense. This show is clever and reflective of a developing civilizing society and is going to be a big hit especially with a new crowd. I think people will like it and hate it depending on your point of view and whether you value musical theatre. The message was amusing but not at all shocking and I value musical theatre so once was more than enough for “The Book of Mormon” for me.

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