Sinfully good: What we thought of 'bonkers' The Book of Mormon at Sunderland Empire
Expect devilish humour, infectiously catchy songs and a shockingly good night out as The Book of Mormon brings its latterday laughter to Sunderland Empire.
For The Book of Mormon virgins expecting an orthodox night at the theatre, this will be a real baptism of fire.
In the current climate of Generation Snowflake, this is a show which laughs in the face of political correctness and is only non-discriminatory in the fact that it "offends" everyone, no matter what your religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. But it’s testament to the quality of the writing, that you leave laughing in the face of prejudice rather than clutching your pearls in disgust.
It’s the kind of cleverly cutting, sardonic humour you’d expect from the pen of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, of South Park fame, who teamed up with Robert Lopez, who co-created the gloriously uninhibited songs of Avenue Q, for this Broadway smash.
The scene is set in conservative Mid-West America as a band of merry Mormon missionaries are given their postings to spread the word. Musical number Hello! has to be one of the best opening tracks in theatre as the Mormons pop up around the stage ringing doorbells whilst wielding The Book of Mormon and a fixed Colgate grin.
All are given postings to glamorous, far-flung places of the globe, except for leading characters, the practically-perfect-in-every-way Elder Price (played by Kevin Clay) and his more endearingly crumpled side kick Elder Cunningham, played by Jacob Yarlett. They’re an unlikely pairing, but together they’re comedy gold.
They draw the short straw with a posting to Uganda and are quickly transported from the shimmering skylines of Salt Lake City to the dusty, disease-ridden streets of a village ruled by a blood-thirsty warlord. Lighting and staging is brilliantly executed and you can almost feel yourself swatting the flies from your head as we journey with them on their African mission.
We’re introduced to their problems in brilliant comical style with Hasa Diga Eebowai - a dark parody on Hakuna Matata. If it sounds bonkers, it’s because it is, but brilliantly so. This is a musical of biblical proportions that really needs to be seen to be believed.