This Review is from 2015. For our current review of American Idiot, click here.
I absolutely adored Broadway director Michael Mayer's 2010 translation of Green Day's iconic 2004 album to the New York stage, and saw it several times there. I then loved it all over again when it came to the UK for a regional tour that culminated in a fortnight's run at London's Hammersmith Apollo. It may have been one of the loudest rock shows on the block, but it was also one of the all-time best: admittedly, the competition isn't that stiff, with previous shows like the utterly risible Rock of Ages (which I once described as "the anti-Christ of musicals") and We Will Rock You putting rock into their titles but missing a true beating heart.
The heart, of course, is part of the logo of the original album, but its been reshaped there as a hand-grenade clutched in a hand, and the show, devised by Mayer with Green Day's front man and lyricist Billie Joe Armstrong, is full of its own kind of anguished heart. Not that you'd necessarily know it from Racky Plews's deafening and blinding (sometimes both at the same time) new production.
The noise and light may be appropriate, of course, for a rock show, and so is the overheated hellhole that is the Arts Theatre — a perfectly grungy environment for a grungy show. But for all the punch and undeniable verve and attack of Plews's attractive young cast, some of whom also playing their own instruments, the show isn't always easy to follow.
Too often it passes by as an impressionistic blur rather than a snapshot of a time and place in post- 9/11 America. But Green Day's astonishing rock score is always worth hearing, and under musical director Mark Crossland sounds thrillingly alive. So are the performances of Aaron Sidewell, Alexis Gerred and Llandyll Gove, who are outstanding amongst a large ensemble cast.
"From one hit to another, the audience is fed 90 minutes of uninterrupted chaos, as the show crashes through the barriers of the traditional musical set-up. Yet with its wit and warmth it is likely to win over traditional theatregoers."
Rachel Ward for The Telegraph
"The appealingly driven raucousness of Green Day's music and its patches of angst-y sensitivity are powerfully served by the vibrant company and instrumentalists."
Paul Taylor for The Independent
"American Idiot pulses with raw energy and rage in a manner that very few shows can muster... I’ve never seen anything quite like it before, and I think that’s a compliment."
Fiona Mountford for The Evening Standard