Published: 13 December, 2012
AMERICAN IDIOT at Hammersmith Apollo
by AMY SMITH
THERE are middle-aged people mixing with teens in the Hammersmith Apollo. The strange thing is, they are wearing the same hoodies, linked by their love for the band Green Day.
At first it might seem incongruous to stage a musical based on an American punk-rock album, but with such unabashed emotion and song titles such as Boulevard of Broken Dreams – why, it’s pure musical territory!
American Idiot is based around the same-titled Green Day concept album released in 2004 and follows the lives of three suburban friends: Johnny, Will, and Tunny, (Alex Nee, Casey O'Farrell and Thomas Hettrick) who dream of escaping the Seven Eleven parking lot.
All three leads are strong singers and look the part, but their chemistry together was not quite believable. Their different journeys are played out against an impressive set – shopping trolleys carrying TV monitors are stung up with chains against a backdrop of flickering screens.
It’s easy to see why Christine Jones and Kevin Adams won Tony awards for set design and lighting, respectively. Steven Hoggett uses the typical physical vernacular of “emos” – angry headbanging and nonchalent shrugs – to create impressive and inventive group choreography.
All three men struggle to find meaning in their lives, Tunny turns to the army only to get lost in a hallucinatory fug, Will attempts to stand by his pregnant girlfriend but struggles in a marijuana daze, and Johnny is determined to become a musician but quickly falls into a heroin-fuelled stupor.
Parents, this is not an advert for drug use. It is actually anything but.
I found out afterwards that charismatic St. Jimmy, played perfectly by Trent Saunders, is actually intended to represent Johnny’s Id, but his character also works as the poisonous drug dealer, always slinking around dropping packets of cocaine or helpfully providing a spoon and belt.
This is definitely not just for fans of the band, but I can promise, you will be humming Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) for weeks to come.
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