Richard Lutz takes his pew at Birmingham Hippodrome for the team that brought you South Park.
Way back in the time of steam TV, people used to tune into the scorchingly funny early series of South Park. It was fresh and cheeky and sharp. You can do and say things that are are unsayable when there’s a cartoon storyboard to fill. South Park’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, delivered.
And now their hit musical show, The Book of Mormon, comes to the Birmingham Hippodrome.
The bite is there, so is the cheeky humour that steamrollers over the PC-sensitive world of race, religion, sex and all the bits in between. And to add depth to the production, they take on sensitive subjects through their humour that may seem untouchable: paedophilia, AIDS, female mutilation, blasphemy and the crush of western crass culture in the poor corners of the world. So, though Book of Mormon is fun, it also hits the bullseye on big subjects that many won’t tackle.
The story is a full throttle mickey-taking of the Mormon religion as the Church of Latter Day Saints hits the road to Uganda to win local villagers over to the sect that insists two lost tribes of Israel sailed to America thousands of years ago to continue the eternal battle of good versus evil.
The cast come equipped with teeth that are one shade of brilliant white, clad in a range of black suits and laden with cockeyed optimism that adds a glint of innocent nastiness to their evangelical sales pitch.
In all, it’s a playful kick in the ribs as it delivers telling comments on some of the world’s ills. It’s helped by the main star, Connor Peirson (above, right), who pluckily plays a chubby nerd who adds bits of Star Wars, The Hobbit and Star Trek to the Mormon holy creed to bump up the number of Africans who want to be baptised. He’s great fun.
So, a hearty romp with terrific song and dance numbers that remind us of South Park in its heyday; a script that has all the realism of a comic book and a sharp insight to some extent at how religion can be packaged worldwide to cultures that simply don’t need another layer of hucksterism crammed into their lives.
The Book of Mormon will merrily fill your evening. Don’t bring the kids as there’s a chorus line of taboo subjects that might singe your ears. But the laughs, some of them cheap, some deeply insightful, are there. As is a polished production that always hints that it is taking potshots not only at the Mormons but the schmaltzy West End/Broadway world of schtick that sells tickets every night.
Until 28th March. Tickets 0844 338 5000.