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The Book of Mormon: Wildly offensive & irreverent (this is no Mary Poppins!) ★★★★★

The hit musical Book of Mormon has brought its missionary to Glasgow for three weeks, for a run between November 9 and 26.

The nine-time Tony Award and our-time Oliver Award-winning show from the creators of South Park, follows “the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries, sent on a mission to a place that’s about as far from Salt Lake City as you can get” (ATG Tickets).

I got my ticket for the show during the opening week. All that was left for my chosen performance was a seat at the very back of the dress circle, warning that it had a “restricted view of elevated scenes”. Luckily, I could see most of the action clearly with only a few scenes being impacted by the view as most of the staging is on ground level.

Talking about that, Book of Mormon is quite a simple show in terms of staging. The sets are flashy and stylish, even if there isn’t much to them, or many of them. It gives the production a cartoon-like feel and makes the setting of Africa juxtapose the clean-kept, American setting of the shows opening minutes.

As for the story and script itself, this isn’t a show for those easily offended, but it is one of the smartest and wittiest scripts I’ve seen a show have. It’s really laugh-a-minute, with a recurring gag about an African having “maggots in his scrotum” a particular highlight, as well as Elder Cunningham’s view of Africa as an idealized, Disney land: “does it mean no worries for the rest of your days?” he asks. No, that phrase actually means “f- you God”! A late-Act 2 performance given by the Africans about the founding of Mormonism also sent laughter rippling through the audience, what was that about frogs!?

But, even with a great script, Book of Mormon IS a musical and that means the big question is how do the songs fare? Amazingly! The wittiness of the script carries through into the musical numbers, especially “Hasa Diga Eebowai”, which gives us an insight into the people of Africa and their frustration at God over their living conditions. The chorus carried this number perfectly, with stunning harmonies and enthusiastic choreography.

‘Spooky Mormon Hell Dream’ in which Elder Price has well… a spooky Mormon Hell Dream, is an Act 2 gem, random and full of power. But the show really shines in its slower ballads.

The ‘Somewhere That’s Green’ (Little Shop of Horrors) inspired ‘ Sal Tlay Ka Siti’ (“My mama once told me of a place with waterfalls and unicorns flying. Where there was no suffering, no pain. Where there was laughter instead of dying.”) is a beautiful insight into the hope of Nabulungi and her growing faith, while rather oppositely, ‘I Believe’ finds Elder Price questioning his faith, but stating “And by gosh, a Mormon just believes!”

Robert Colvin plays our leading man Elder Price. As far as his acting goes, he’s the perfect, charismatic lead the show’s script demands. Although, I felt his singing left something to be desired with ‘I Believe’ not packing the punch it could’ve at times.

Conner Peirson was undoubtedly the highlight of the show as Elder Cunningham. He clearly embraces the wildness of the material and his character, and this comes through in his performance which had the audience almost rolling on the floor with laughter. Aviva Tulley as Nabulungi has some vocal chops as well, as the aforementioned “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” undoubtedly would have shed some tears in the theatre.

You couldn’t ask for many better days out at the theatre than the incredible Book of Mormon which will surely continue to shock and dazzle audiences throughout its last week in Glasgow, for which there is very limited seating available, so get your tickets ASAP or miss out (you don’t want to do that)!

Feature Image Credit: British Theatre

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