Touring – reviewed at the New Wimbledon Theatre, London ★★★★
Taking Wimbledon by storm, American Idiot is a maelstrom of epic performances, high intensity choreography, a killer score and fantastic acting. Taking the music of Green Day and combining it with a story about three men facing darkness and pain on their journeys to finding something they can believe in; it is a very well constructed show which packs all the right punches.
Sara Perks’ design is simplistic but does complete justice to the theme and aesthetic of the show. Screens are cleverly used to show various emotions and flashbacks and to emphasise certain scenes. These also allow original American Idiot cast member Lucas Rush to be cleverly worked into the show as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Boyfriend, these little details make the show stand out and no doubt are a factor in keeping loyal fans returning time after time.
Tim Deiling’s lighting is suitably in your face, but equally precise and emotive in the higher intensity moments of the show. Chris Whybrow also achieves good balance between creating blast-your-ears-off numbers and more acoustic sounding pieces. For a show which on the surface may seem a bit of a mish-mash, it’s very well conceived and carried out.
The American Idiot cast is uniformly strong as they perform Racky Plews’ choreography with bite and aggression, and give note-perfect vocal performances. Tom Milner is darkly captivating as Johnny who leads the show with spades of commitment. Milner’s breakdown moment is act two is utterly superb. The audience can physically feel each others tension as Milner has mastered controlling a crowd with every breath. His well-acted and well-sung performance is impeccable.
Sam Lavery is a vocal powerhouse who brings a sexiness and sadness to the show. His vocals are smooth and captivating. Luke Friend gives a manic and electric performance with killer vocals and a performance which crackles and fizzles throughout; and Samuel Pope plays the troubled Will with sincerity and subtlety. As Tunny, Joshua Dowen gives a striking performance with a great character arc.
Another stand out is Glenn Adamson who captures our attention whenever he’s on stage and who provides particularly strong vocals in his solo moments. Alexandra Robinson, Shekinah McFarlane and Siobhan O’Driscoll are especially memorable throughout.
Musical highlights include 21 Guns, Wake Me Up When September Ends, St Jimmy and Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life), but the whole score is performed superbly well.
Whether you’ve grown up with Greenday, or like me just know a few of the most popular songs, you’ll certainly enjoy this raucous show. The storyline itself is pretty thin but thanks to the outstanding vocal performances and incredibly emotive and shocking scenes, American Idiot provides a fun, feisty night out.
American Idiot runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 18th March 2019 before continuing its tour
photo credit: Mark Dawson Photography