Review | The Book of Mormon at Mayflower Theatre: 'It may be My Favourite Show Ever'

It is the job of the critic to be objective, but when the critic is experiencing a show for the first time and – as every minute passes – he’s becoming more and more convinced that this is now His Favourite Show Ever, objectivity may go out of the window.
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I’d heard some of the score of The Book of Mormon and enjoyed it; I knew, albeit basically, the plot; seen it I had not.

But now I have – and I believe it may be My Favourite Show Ever.

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Let me make it clear – it’s not for the faint-hearted in any way.

Nicole-Lily Baisden and Conner Peirson in The Book of MormonNicole-Lily Baisden and Conner Peirson in The Book of Mormon
Nicole-Lily Baisden and Conner Peirson in The Book of Mormon

The language plumbs the depths and goes as far down as English can go; the situations are, to put it mildly, vivid; little is left to the imagination (the creative use of an X-ray proves particularly clever).

The show – should you be in possession of a filthy sense of humour – is heaven.

I possess such a sense of humour.

I loved it and howled like a banshee and believe me, it takes a lot to do that to this jaded old critic these days.

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The plot is simple – two mismatched Mormon Elders get sent to Uganda to spread the word of Christ. We follow their adventures.

The cast is, uniformly, sublime, and their praises should be sung long and loud.

The ensemble mega-watt their way through the numbers; they never flag and are particularly joyous in the Mormon dream-of-hell sequence and in the play they perform for the Mormon Elders.

Among the principals, Aviva Tulley is ridiculously too small for the enormous voice her body houses. Her performance is also the most genuine, the most real.

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That’s not a sleight to the other actors; their characters don’t really allow for reality! Hers does – and she taps it and lets it run. Excellent stuff.

Robert Colvin as the self-obsessed Elder Price is thoroughly unlikeable – so may consider his job well done. His voice, too, is a revelation; surely there’s a law, somewhere, against any tenor register going as high as that?

That, however, is true of the entire score; listen to the vocal-harmonies – they’re very top-heavy. This adds a power and a dynamic to them that is particularly thrilling.

But after this evening, my heart belongs to Conner Peirson’s Elder Cunningham. This faulted, fragile human being, so desperately in need of approval and love, earned both from me. A wonderfully comi-tragic performance.

And if you can see the ending coming a mile off – so what?

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Resolution is key – and this resolves exactly as you’d expect and exactly as you’d want.

Yes, it’s coarse, but it’s also rather wonderful.

Until March 5.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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