Providing you don’t arrive expecting to see a rock show, it’s hard not to be impressed by this TONY award winning musical from across the pond.
Based on Green Day’s multi-platinum album of the same name, the show combines all of the hits in a fast moving, energetic, slightly hard to follow, 90-minute show. American Idiot (written by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and director Michael Mayer) is the story of three best friends who, like many of us, are sick of the dull life they lead in their hometown. Unlike many of us, Jonny, Tunny and Will decide to do something about it. Each embarks on an all singing, all dancing escape from normality which inadvertently brings them crashing back down to earth.
Johnny and Tunny head out across the unknown that is America, expecting excitement and new experiences only to find that the real world isn’t quite what they were hoping for. Tunny packs his bags and joins the military, leaving Johnny alone and desperate. Reverting to a life of drugs under the influence of his alter ego St Jimmy, Johnny is torn between his addiction and his new found love for Whatsername. Will on the other hand, having received news that his girlfriend is pregnant, is forced to sit out on the adventure. Slowly but surely, a mixture of alcohol and weed distract him from his duties leaving all three friends in less than favourable situations.
The political overtones of American Idiot are hard to ignore- set during the peak (if you can call it that…) of George Bush’s presidency, the allusions to war and discontentment make for some pretty emotional scenes if you can forget that you’re munching on a bag of sweets listening to a Glee version of a Green Day album…
The on-stage band ensure sure that you remember the roots of the show and fans of Green Day will be happy to see that they’re suspiciously similarly clad to Tré, Mike and most obviously Billie Joe. The rest of the cast of twenty would fit in equally well at a Green Day show with Ramones t-shirts and scruffy jeans jumping vivaciously around left, right and centre.
Despite the fact that it was of course, originally a rock band’s seventh release, American Idiot lends itself dramatically (excuse the pun…) well to the stage. Songs like “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Jesus of Suburbia” fall seamlessly into the ‘how-did-this-happen-to-one-group-of-friends story’ and the people dancing in ways that I’ve only known to be possible after several drinks in places that you wouldn’t think of dancing in even after several drinks, somehow seem completely normal. Perhaps it’s because life with a soundtrack is secretly everyone’s dream or maybe, it’s just because Green Day (and everyone else involved) have pulled this whole thing off incredibly well.