American Idiot is more a punk rock opera than a jukebox musical. Using the music of the band Green Day played by an excellent live band, it launches itself at you and doesn’t hold back for the whole show.
Three young men living in a small town are trying to find a purpose to their existence in America in the aftermath of 9/11. The story follows the trio as they head down different paths in life to find that purpose.
This show was not initially written to be performed as a musical; it started life as an album intended to take Green Day’s fans to new musical territory. Unlike some musicals based on existing ‘pop’ music, the songs help to tell the story, as in an opera. No song feels dropped in because it has to be in the show, they have a narrative purpose and weight.
There is a level of energy from the cast in this show that almost leaves you tired just watching. They are constantly on the move in energetic street dance style dance routines, which look organic and spontaneous, however they are obviously highly technical and skilled pieces of choreography and performance.
The whole cast are strong and engaging , it is hard to know where to look at times as you don’t want to take your eyes off anyone. There are two standout moments however in the second half. Alexis Gerred (Tunny) pours his heart into a solo fuelled by morphine. It is both beautiful and haunting in equal measures.
Another stunning acoustic solo piece (Boulevard Of Broken Dreams) was delivered by Newton Faulkner as Johnny. Faulkner’s performance throughout was polished as he delivered various song styles from acoustic to rockier numbers. Notable performances were given too by Amelia Lily as Whatsername, Lucas Rush as St Jimmy and understudy Karina Hind as Extraordinary Girl.
With a mainly fixed set that reflected the grimness of the times and situations the lads got themselves in, the lighting played a crucial part in setting the scene. It also struck the perfect balance between rock concert and musical.
This show tells it how it is, it is gritty and graphic, but that should be expected in a show with music by a group such as Green Day.
American Idiot is unpredictable, loud, visually stunning and powerful. If you go, to quote the song, “I hope you have the time of your lives”.
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