Arts Theatre, London – until 25 September 2016
A high energy and exciting interpretation of Green Day’s 2004 album has plenty to recommend it. Returning to London after a hugely successful UK tour, American Idiot is a story of how to find yourself and the direction your life takes as seen through the eyes of three friends, whose lives take extremely different paths.
It is quite simply one of the most energetic, edgy and passionate musicals that is currently in London thanks to choreographer and director Racky Plews’ stylish production combined with the straight talking music of Green Day.
American Idiot might be a story that has plenty to say about the disillusionment that each of the characters feel living in America (or the UK for that matter if we were to switch it around), but it is also a story that of freedom and rebellion that gets straight to the point.
Although the pace is consistently fast, there are moments of reflection and vulnerability that can be seen in each of the characters that make this show also poignant and moving. Each individual main character has a touch of insecurity about them that they don’t want to admit to themselves, let alone to another person – whether it coping with the idea of fatherhood, growing up and falling in love or joining the army.
Relevant to the world in which we live in today, American Idiot is filled with fantastic performances from the cast. Newton Faulkner, who is making his West End debut in this production, is charismatic and vulnerable as Johnny and has plenty of stand out moments – not least when he is singing ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ and ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ .
Amelia Lily is equally as good, although it seems as though she could have potentially been used more. Yet, despite not having any spoken lines, her mannerisms as the feisty Whatsername are utterly convincing and compelling to watch, that the audience still gets a strong understanding of her character. Her confrontation scene with Johnny is as angry and as passionate as you would want it to be.
There is also a great performance from Alexis Gerred as Tunny, whose character undergoes the biggest transformation – from being a drug addict to signing up for the army and dealing with the consequences of war and is the character who the audience can most sympathise for, despite his flaws. It is a fantastically judged performance, filled with anger, rebellion but in the end acceptance and maturity of a character who definitely comes the furthest.
But the only small grievance (and it might be just me) is that at times the immaturity and chaos of some the scenes, distracts from a well told story through music.
This shouldn’t disrupt audiences enjoyment, with the unique structure of telling a story through music as opposed to having music work alongside the story adding to the quirky appeal of Racky Plews’ production.
If you can get a ticket during this limited run, then do it now – as it is an extraordinarily powerful and hard hitting musical, featuring a whole lot of talent.
American Idiot runs at the Arts Theatre until the 25th September. To book tickets visit: Ticketmaster.co.uk, Discount Theatre.com, Last Minute.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Love Theatre.com, Theatre People.com and UK Tickets.co.uk.