Writer: Billie Joe Armstrong & Michael Mayer
Music: Green Day
Lyrics: Billie Joe Armstrong
Director: Michael Mayer
Reviewer: Kerri Peck
The Public Reviews Rating:
Based on Green Day’s GRAMMY® Award-winning multi-platinum album, American Idiot boldly takes the American musical where it has never gone before. American Idiot is a true rock opera, almost exclusively using the music of Green Day and the lyrics of its frontman, Billie Joe Armstrong, to tell its story. Featuring the hits Boulevard of Broken Dreams, 21 Guns, Wake Me Up When September Ends, Holiday and the blockbuster title track, American Idiot. The score comprises the whole of the title album as well as several songs from the band’s 2009 release, 21st Century Breakdown.
We are told the story of three lifelong friends, forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia. Their quest for the true meaning to their life in a post 9/11 America leads them on an exhilarating journey and we are along for the ride. This show is recommended for children over the age of 12 as there is strong language and adult themes throughout. It passionately tells the friends’ tale and their journey of discovery with such charge and energy that it stirs emotions which rocket you back to the chaotic fairground ride of young adulthood. The empathy for these boys is real and watching the individual paths that they all follow shows how easily things can escalate or deteriorate.
Alex Nee radiates such angst, rebelliousness and self-pity as Johnny, the unkept leader of a trio of small-town buddies and self-acclaimed “Jesus of Suburbia,” crucified on a dull life. Thomas Hettrick plays Tunny, who accompanies Johnny to the big city. Casey O’Farrell manages to evoke some energy into couch-potato Will, whose main talent seems to be swilling beer and smoking but out of the trio of friends Will stays behind when his lover falls pregnant. We then follow the boys as their chosen paths play out and the boys get pulled further along. Johnny ends up meeting a heroin dealer called St. Jimmy played by a dynamic Trent Saunders whose interest in Johnny ends up destroying Johnny’s shot at true love.
The stunning set also adds to a chaotic infrastructure, dominated by scaffolding and blaring TV monitors. This brilliantly helps to show the stimulus overload that our age of information and media produces.
American Idiot won’t appeal to everyone but it is a must see for any modern rock opera and Green Day fans alike. It was refreshing to see the theatre full with so many different walks of life and different ages. The music score was loud and punchy giving a performance I’m sure Green Day would be proud of.