American Idiot

Theatre, West End
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(12user reviews)
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 (© Darren Bell)
1/6
© Darren Bell

Lucas Rush (St. Jimmy) and Newton Faulkner (Johnny)

 (© Darren Bell)
2/6
© Darren Bell

Amelia Lily (Whatsername)

 (© Darren Bell)
3/6
© Darren Bell

Lucas Rush (St. Jimmy)

 (© Darren Bell)
4/6
© Darren Bell

Alice Stokoe (Extraordinary Girl), Amelia Lily (Whatsername), Newton Faulkner (Johnny)

 (© Darren Bell)
5/6
© Darren Bell

Newton Faulker (Johnny) and cast

 (© Darren Bell)
6/6
© Darren Bell

Newton Faulkner (Johnny) and cast

Green Day's musical finally gets a low key West End run… but they shouldn't have bothered

Watching clips of George Bush and his War On Terror give way to the opening power chords of Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ makes 2004 feel an awfully long time ago. That was the year the US handed Dubya a second term – inexplicable to most of the rest of the world – and the Berkley pop-punks make an only slightly more creditable comeback with a rock opera of adolescent suburban inertia. Brought to Broadway as an all air-guitaring musical in 2010, it now returns to the Arts Theatre following a hit run in 2015, in a snare-drum tight production from Sell A Door and director/choreographer Racky Plews.

Rattling chronologically through the titular album, geed up with a few B-Sides and floor-fillers, it’s a superficially gritty but conceptually conventional story of three friends battling their way to adulthood and responsibility through a haze of narcotic and military misery. Billie-Joe Armstrong’s lyrics are bland and sentimental, and his songs fall into the two familiar pop-punk categories of angry anthems and acoustic navel-gazing, but there’s energy and empathy in his writing that’s frequently irresistible.

Plews has done a stunning job, blasting through the story at ear-splitting volumes and in a single act. Her choreography is electric, and her cast, led by the superb Newton Faulkner as Johnny the ‘Jesus of Suburbia’, attack every number with raucous muscularity. It’s hard to imagine ‘American Idiot’ receiving a better, bolshier treatment, but only you and your misspent youth can decide if that’s enough.

 

By: Stewart Pringle

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Average User Rating

2.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:6
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|12
1 person listening
Stephanie C
tastemaker

I love the Album American Idiot and wondered how they would be able to tie up a musical out of just this one album. They tried and they didnt disappoint but this is why the show is relatively short and has no interview. Its very high energy and rather sombre at times. Newton Faulker has lost a lot of weight and when Johnny his character starts to OD, he actually pulls it off so well. Very good acting. I liked the set as you can imagine your in his flat and its just so dirty it makes you want to retch. Dont even start me on the toilet! Anyway at points I felt the ladies in the musical were just extras for dancing but all the same they are talented and had great voices. I just felt that it was a v difficult show taking so much music from one album and then making a storyline out of it. Nevertheless I gave it two stars but upgraded it to three because the actors really made it something great :D 

dovpanda
Tastemaker

So I read the reviews others left and I feel like I need to share mine. We went to see it yesterday. Full disclosure we like that kind of music and on the other hand not a huge musical fans. We very much enjoyed it, the fact that it wasn't in a huge musical-like venue and more underground, indy one made it feel more comfortable and in sync with the show itself. The cast was very talented and fun. I agree there was not so much talk and more music, but that's what we like (we got to live shows all the time for the music) so for us the balance was quite good.
We would definitely want to go again. It's a very fun, unique experience for punk-rock music lovers.  

Angela L

So... I was really stoked I was not in the front row for this... it's super loud for the most part and there is a lot of spit, sweat and tears which I didn't want to be that close to.  I'm not even a fan of Green Day but at the end of this, it makes me want to revisit their back catalog as so many of the songs were pretty deep and meaningful!   I am only giving it three stars because the set never changes and the story is told thru 95% music, i.e. very limited dialogue.  I wasn't too keen on the dance sequences or any of the loud bits... I liked it when the key casts sang on their own, especially the ballads as they really held their own and you could hear the words.  In the end, I quite enjoyed it, despite how grim parts of it was.  It ended on a high with almost everyone standing up and clapping along.  I also noticed one of the main cast - Steve Rushton was emotional (crying) from start to finish, only at the end I realised it was cos it was his last night in the show!  Lucky me!  He made the whole thing feel a lot deeper!  Check him out and look out for him, super talented and definitely one of my favourite solo performers in the cast.

Paula - ToT
tastemaker

Watching this from the middle of the front row of the stalls was an intense experience, especially during the more uncomfortable scenes involving drug taking.  However, you leave the theatre on a bit of a high (excuse the pun!).   The performances are good and you are drawn in to the storyline which are beautifully intertwined with the music and lyrics of Green Day.  The fear before watching the musical was that the cast would never really live up to the band, but I think the cast realise that and so aren’t trying to be poor imitations.  The reviews have been mixed, but worth a see if you can find a deal on tickets. 

Samantha H
Tastemaker

Before I went to see American Idiot I spent about 2 minutes wondering how they would link the songs together with a plot.....I believe that this was about 2 minutes longer than the writers spent on it....  The sound was poor, you couldnt actually hear the lyrics half of the time, the 'storyline' made little sense and Whatshername had no stage presence at all!  Came out thinking I just saw a poor Green Day tribute band.  Some great talent in the cast but sadly wasted in this one.....

Sosh_uk
Tastemaker

There is not much of a story line and little dialogue. If you are a Green day fan, you will love it. If you have never heard of Green day, don't bother!

dnwilliams

This show is energetic, but exhausting. It's essentially sung-through, so if you do choose to check it out, be prepared for minimal dialogue, but I really can't recommend it. Hardcore Green Day fans might be content to simply hear the band's songs back to back with a poorly cobbled together excuse for a story, but casual fans will be driven crazy.

Richard N
Tastemaker

You could spend your money better elsewhere honestly. Even if you're a hardcore Green Day fan, this doesn't add much to the mix. Let's start with the plus points: fantastic lighting and interesting set. That's it. It feels a bit like a mess, mostly because the sound system was awful and half the time you can't hear what they say. It's all strung together by a pathetic storyline about bromance and growing up that doesn't quite make sense. Some great visuals, but ultimately give a choice, would have skipped out on this one.  

Daniel L
Tastemaker

Even though I am not really a fan of musicals which string a "best hits" album together and not really have much a storyline running through it, I must say American Idiot was a lot better than what I expected. Kudos to the energy showed by the cast, and it really kept the audience entertained instead of dozing off (seen that happen in other musicals....). Aaron Sidwell is a beast on stage and was a large part of what made American Idiot enjoyable for me. The set was cleverly thought out and the tiny stage used very well. There was a small technical hiccup at the start of the show which caused it to start only 10 minutes later but overall this had no effect on the performers. I must say the amount of mucus that came out from Aaron's nose was incredulous. Left me wondering if that was real or some ingenious stage prop... (Fake blood I know but fake mucus? hmm....) all in all an enjoyable night out for myself and for the rest of the audience who were bopping along to hits like "boulevard of broken dreams" and "wake me up when september ends".

Sarah J
tastemaker

This show was full of entertainment, singing and dancing to good old Green Day songs. The venue got hot really quickly, so by the end it was quite hot and sticky. There was a little too much swearing and drug references for my liking. But the cast did such a great job of singing and getting you to really feel the music and be immersed in the experience. Amelia Lily and the main actor were amazing, it was definitely a rockstar evening.

Sonny C

"title"

Tastemaker

I'll put my hand up & admit I'm not a big Green Day fan so was unsure what I'd make of their "jukebox" musical. Delighted to say it was a pleasant surprise. A lot of songs were really familiar, worked well with the story & were brilliantly performed by a talented & energetic cast. It's a gritty, at times depressing storyline but it suits the rocky tempo & urban setting. There are flashes of humour & the set is brilliant. Loved the way real footage of 9/11 & the Bush administration were interspersed with the live action. It was modern & relevant when 1st launched on Broadway but now feels like a nostalgic period piece- a snapshot of the early 2000's. This is an intimate venue which suited the show well but on a balmy summers eve felt a bit too stuffy & sauna-esque- my only major criticism. The leads were all charismatic & yes Amelia-Lily from X factor is well & truly leaving her reality roots behind. The final song with the whole cast on guitars was a highlight. Fans would love it but I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking for a more rockier musical experience.

bowertron

Well I shouldn't like this at all and by the end of the night I had a raging headache a ringing in my ears but, strangely, a new found appreciation of Green Day. The audience were all on their feet and this audience wasn't your usual west end crowd. This crowd filmed the show, sung the show but also were completely drawn in by it. This is a  nipple squeezing, butt revealing, hard drug taking, sex fuelled show full of angst and the people loved it and wanted more. Aaron Sidwell was superb. I agree with the reviewer the story doesn't really resonate with the audience in fact I hated the characters so much I would have been happier to see them all dead by the end of it. If you loved Spring Awakening and are a fan of Rent then I'd say give this a go. You will enjoy. Fans of musical theatre be prepared... there is no interval so you are in it for the duration once monster sound starts