AMERICAN IDIOT – Touring

In Musicals, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland, Touring by Thom DibdinLeave a Comment

★★★ Kings Theatre, Edinburgh - 13th July Explosive and full of energy, Edinburgh based youth company Shoogly Peg bring the house down at the King’s with rock’n’roll musical American Idiot. The 2009 Broadway musical, based on the 2004 concept album of the same name by US pop-punk band Green Day, tells the story of three young men who dream of leaving their small town behind for the bright lights of New York. The dream soon turns sour as one turns to drugs, another is wounded in the army, and one never gets to New York after staying behind to look after his pregnant girlfriend. Green Day are one of the biggest rock bands in the world right now and adored by their fans. Thousands were left disappointed last week when their Bellahouston Park gig in Glasgow was cancelled at the last minute, but luckily for Edinburgh, American Idiot is packed with some of the band’s greatest hits. Shoogly Peg’s take on the musical is brought up to date with some audio of Donald Trump’s election campaign ringing out through the theatre before the cast launch into the title song, one of Green Day’s biggest hits. It sets the tone for the rest of the show with its loud, head banging, angst ridden attitude. Callum Ford gives an impressive performance as Johnny, a confident and cocky young man who definitely walks around the stage with some rock’n’roll swagger. Stuart Mitchell and Ross Hunter who play Will and Tunny are both strong leads, and the trio complement each other as the best friends struggle through their own personal issues. Ford and Linzi Devers, who plays Whatshername, have some great moments together. The young couple get sucked into what seems like a glamourous world of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll but it’s not long before it comes crashing down around them. Devers’ voice shines throughout the show, but it’s when she commands the stage during LetterBomb that you can see what a fantastic performer she is. There are some great vocals in the show from the likes of Ruby Leslie and Becca Wickstead who play St Jimmy and Heather respectively. Both have incredibly strong voices that marry perfectly into some of Green Day’s songs. The music is brought to life by a live four piece band, but on the louder musical numbers the band drowns out the singers on the stage. A lot of the songs are fast passed and on several occasions it becomes difficult to make out what is actually being sung. For a musical with little dialogue that relies heavily on songs to tell its story, that is a problem. That said, there are some really beautiful musical numbers in the show. One of the highlights comes in the second half when Johnny sits on his bed playing his guitar and singing When It’s Time. It’s completely different to the rest of the show and gives us a glimpse of just how talented Ford is. The choreography is a mixed bag throughout the production. A scene where the cast make up a bus for Holiday is really clever, however when the whole ensemble is on stage for the bigger numbers it’s all a little too chaotic and is merely a packed stage of youngsters waking about and head banging ever so often. A production that punches though one hit after another, it’s just a shame some inaudible songs let down an otherwise fantastic rendition of this modern rock musical. Running time: 2 hours (including one interval) King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ. Wednesday 12/Thursday 13 July 2017. 2.30pm and 7.30pm each day. (run ended). ENDS
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Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. He tweets from @AllEdinTheatre and, personally, from @ThomDibdin.

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