Touring – reviewed at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
Green Day’s American Idiot is a celebrated punk rock concept album written post 911. Wild speculation about who it is making reference to was rife at the time of release. Though fiercely denied by all, as we take to our seats videos are being projected of President George W Bush’s various speeches. The album is now 15 years old and this tour celebrates 10 years of the production.
The book written by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer is expanded from that of the concept album, and centres on three disaffected young men, Johnny, Will, and Tunny. Johnny and Tunny flee a stifling suburban lifestyle and parental restrictions, while Will stays home to work out his relationship with his pregnant girlfriend, Heather. The former pair look for their meaning in life and try out the freedom and excitement of the city. Tunny quickly gives up on life in the city, joins the military, and is shipped off to war. Johnny turns to drugs and finds a part of himself that he grows to dislike, has a relationship and experiences lost love.
A dynamic start and the feeling of teenage anger, power and anarchy is immense from the cast and sensational onstage band. The cast exudes high energy which continues throughout the show, with maximum impact the title and opening number certainly makes the production open with a bang.
Tom Milner as Johnny is the pivotal role within this show and one which he is certainly born to play. Every bit a leading man and each time he gets the opportunity to pick up the guitar himself to join the band he does so. The depiction of his self-destruction has an intensity and I have to say for me I’d forgotten how many different layers this show has. One thing which disappointed me a little was the fact that it works better and is more punchy with no interval, but that’s just my personal preference having seen it in London.
Tunny played by Joshua Dowen has probably the most difficult role to play out of the three main characters. A complex character dealing with the graphic effects of war and post traumatic stress. Dowen made you feel his terror and horror.
Samuel Pope played Will an integral role within the cast he supported at every opportunity with his ever ready guitar. Other notable performances came from Glen Adamson, Alexandra Robinson, Laura Marie Benson and Siobhan O’Driscoll. However the energy and angst shown by the entire cast was breathtaking.
The sinister character of St Jimmy played by Luke Friend was a harsh warning of what happens when you take anything to excess. We all have the ability to have a darker side to our character and Friend reminds of what can happen if we give into it.
The delightful Sam Lavery as Whatsername was everything I’d hoped for after visiting the rehearsal room recently, and she gave an absolutely effortlessly perfect performance.
Choreography and direction by Racky Plews once again delighted by giving us some of the most innovative and visually creative dance, I’ve seen in this particular genre of musical. Interesting and challenging, I applaud the cast for their perfect execution of it.
I was bowled over by the layers to this show, this accompanied by an excellent cast and Green Day‘s iconic music it’s easy to see why this is a twice Tony and Grammy award-winning show. This production is no different and there are some great performances. I particularly enjoyed some of the arrangements for the songs. So my advice in summary is if you like Green Day don’t you be an idiot, book now to see this production of American Idiot before it’s too late.
At the Mayflower theatre until 26th January before continuing to tour.
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