Blown away by gritty and dynamic production

First published in Entertainments

AMERICAN IDIOT, THE MAYFLOWER, SOUTHAMPTON

YOU don’t have to think Green Day is the world’s greatest punk rock band to be blown away by American Idiot, which had its European premiere at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre.

This gritty, dynamic and truly spectacular production is the stage incarnation of lead singer Billie Joe Johnson’s rock opera, which forms the band’s seminal album of the same name.

A trio of directionless young men in post-9/11 suburbia are desperate to break away from the drudgery of their lives.

Tunny joins the army, Will resentfully stays behind with his pregnant girlfriend, while Johnny drifts into a heady cocktail of love, lust and heroin addiction.

Grim stuff – but somehow the brutality and energy of this production works in balance.

With minimal dialogue, Green Day’s punchy rock numbers, powerful melodies and angst-ridden lyrics tell this tale of frustration, bitterness and coming of age.

The choreography is fascinating, with moves that break the musical theatre mould.

The all-American cast’s powerful voices do justice to Green Day’s 2004 album, while an impressive set with cleverly used screens and projections help to enhance the storyline.

In places it could seem like a rattle through of Green Day’s still brilliant album with a few extra tracks thrown in.

But to be the success it has rightly become, this musical needed to deliver so much more, and thanks to its pace, creativity and deft direction it has succeeded.

Jill Harding

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