Review by: Paul Towers, 24/3/16
Green Day’s American Idiot
Curve, 19 – 27 March 2016
“an anthem-ic punk rock tirade.”
I had never heard of Green Day before I saw this show and, if I am honest, they would never have been on my musical radar. But one of the joys of reviewing theatre is that I get see a wide range of genres, most of which I would never have thought of embracing.
In my innocence I settled into my seat in Curve’s studio space and waited to see what joys, or otherwise, this show would bring. I had briefly looked up the group on Youtube and was ready to feel way too old for these ‘youthful rhythms’. But I was jolted out of my indolence by a couple of hours of high energy singing, dancing and instrument playing by a hugely talented cast.
The set was that of urban decay; dirty exposed pipes, cage walls and improvised ladders. As the curtain rose we were greeted with an anthem-ic punk rock tirade depicting the anarchic behaviour of disaffected 21st century youth in America. Catapulted off the back of 9/11 and the Middle East war American youth’s expectations were at rock bottom.
If the truth be told they are just symbolic of many youngsters in the western world at the time. Drugs, promiscuity and a disregard for authority lead our three protagonists spiralling down into their own different versions of hell. They start off as silly little boys but, as reality kicks in, they realise that everything has a price and no-one in their world lives happily ever after.
This is the eternal story of alienated youth set to a punk rock beat. Only these youths take the left hand path and end up as a junkie, a military amputee and a single father, their lives ruined forever.
Green Day wrote American Idiot as a concept album, a rock opera in the vein of The Who’s Tommy, way back in 2004 as a response to 9/11 and the ensuing madness in Iraq. The theatre director Michael Mayer approached them with the idea of making it a real opera, a theatrical experience. It took 5 years for the rewriting and staging to gel into an initial off-Broadway try-out. Since then it has toured internationally and is all over the UK until July this year. Catch it if you can.
American Idiot is at Curve until Saturday 27 March .
First published in Western Gazette