REVIEW: AMERICAN IDIOT (Churchill Theatre Bromley)

American Idiot isn’t your average musical and from the opening number, it has plenty of energy and most of all, noise that most certainly packs a punch!

The show tells a tale of a post 9/11 America which uses the music from the popular American band, Green Day and their 2004 album, which gave the show it’s title.

The story is based upon the very different lives of three friends within a small-town America. We follow the story of Tunny who joins the army, Will who gets his girlfriend pregnant and doesn’t appear to do much else than lounge around all day and Johnny who ventures off into the city to live his dreams. All three storylines unfortunately don’t have their happy endings, which adds to the emotion of this production.

I unfortunately struggled at times to hear much of what was being sung throughout the show, unless it was a “quieter” musical number. This not due to the strong punk music throughout, but because I believe the sound and microphones may have not been matched evenly, in order to balance one another. On a number of occasions, the microphones were late in coming on for the next line to be sung. The sounds problems meant I lost some of the storyline as it went along and progressed and it was therefore difficult to understand at times how the storylines of Tunny, Will and Johnny had progressed.

The set for this show was great – the use of a concrete-effect set that had been graffiti stained, doubling up as a squat, a hospital and a living room which was very much reminiscent of a broken society. I liked the use of the video clips from the giant television screen at the very start of the show, which gave the show a harrowing and emotional start, which formed the backdrop for what lay ahead.

The choreography for this show was dynamic and made fantastic use of the set. Lots of energy from the start and the timing and precision of this enabled the passion of this show to shine through.

The music for American Idiot is played on stage which added to the atmosphere of this show and the use of actor-musicians showed how talented the cast were and showed how powerful the music was to this production.

For me, my favourite scene was an acoustic version of “Wake Me Up When September Ends” – the theatre became eerily quiet and just the strumming of the guitar and the soft tender vocals gave this scene a very moving sentiment.

Much of the enjoyment of this show will mostly depend on if you like or have heard of Green Day’s music. I hadn’t heard much before but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment and it opened my eyes. It is a good show to see but unfortunately with the sound problems it was easy to become lost with the storyline but this is a show that you won’t forget quickly!

Reviewed by Sam Harler
Photo: Darren Bell