HELLO: Blake Bowden stars as Elder Price in the musical comedy The Book of Mormon, currently playing QPAC's Lyric Theatre.
HELLO: Blake Bowden stars as Elder Price in the musical comedy The Book of Mormon, currently playing QPAC's Lyric Theatre. Jeff Busby

REVIEW: I dare you not to laugh at The Book of Mormon

YOU will feel a pang of guilt laughing at some of the jokes in The Book of Mormon.

But that won't take long to pass as another funny quip or insightful observation will come along just moments later.

The comedy musical, from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is a tongue-in-cheek look at the peculiar American religious movement known as Mormonism.

Also known as Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a movement of Restorationist Christianity, it's a branch of faith which certainly has its quirks.

Parker, Stone and their co-creator Robert Lopez (of Avenue Q fame) use that to their full advantage in a story that follows two plucky young missionaries, fresh out of training, who are sent to the less than desirable location of Northern Uganda to baptise the locals. 

A scene from the musical comedy The Book of Mormon, currently playing QPAC's Lyric Theatre.
A scene from the musical comedy The Book of Mormon, currently playing QPAC's Lyric Theatre. Jeff Busby

Officially opening to a packed house in Brisbane last night, the award-winning production starts out with two chirpy numbers, Hello and Two by Two, introducing Mormon poster boy Elder Price (Blake Bowden) and awkward oddball Elder Cunningham (Canadian Nyk Bielak). 

Their pants and shirts are perfectly pressed and, armed with the titular Book of Mormon, this mismatched duo is ready to preach and, hopefully, baptise.

As soon as Elders Price and Cunningham arrive in Africa you get hit with the first of many wildly inappropriate songs that will have you laughing despite yourself.

As one would expect, Uganda is a rude shock for the sheltered missionaries, who discover their fellow Elders have yet to recruit a single follower.

Nyk Bielak and company of the musical comedy The Book of Mormon.
Nyk Bielak and company of the musical comedy The Book of Mormon. Jeff Busby

These blindly optimistic young men are woefully under-equipped for what they find. 

How can that "most amazing book" help them tackle poverty, famine, war and AIDS - the real problems affecting their potential flock?

Elder Cunningham strikes a chord in the village while Elder Price struggles to fulfil the destiny he's been promised.

Yes Mormon beliefs and practices are the butt of many jokes, but the story is also somehow affectionate in its treatment of the well-meaning, if misguided, missionaries. 

The second act goes to some truly weird places - Spooky Mormon Hell Dream is a prime example - but I'd expect nothing less from the wonderfully twisted minds behind South Park and Team America.

What matters is, in between the laughs, love, service and friendship are ultimately celebrated. 

Blake Bowden, Nyk Bielak, Tigist Strode and company of the musical comedy The Book of Mormon.
Blake Bowden, Nyk Bielak, Tigist Strode and company of the musical comedy The Book of Mormon. Jeff Busby

The Book of Mormon is on at QPAC's Lyric Theatre through May 31 and, thanks to unprecedented demand, will return for another run in January, 2020. 



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