American Idiot in London

It’s a combo that really shouldn’t work. A late 90’s, early noughties punk rock band turning their biggest album into a West End stage show. Like I said, it shouldn’t work. However like my own primary school English teacher once said…never judge a book by it’s cover, or erm, never judge a play by it’s inspiration. We’ll go with that.

Green Day are not your average American pop-punk band, their songs are often politically influenced and their energetic presence empower you whether you’re listening to them on Spotify or seeing the band live. With a handful of albums released throughout the 90’s and 00’s, the band found global success after their 2004 release of pop-punk goodness American Idiot. Enter the West End spotlight.

Before its appearance in London, the energetically charged show already collected a couple of Tony Award’s when it opened on Broadway in 2010. Now after crossing the big pond, does the show establish it’s own identity in a place that is known for it’s quality theatre? Perhaps surprisingly…yes it does.

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When entering the Arts Theatre you walk into a cafe, perplexed how there’s a stage hidden somewhere in the building. As I took my seat in the 350-seater theatre, I was praying that their wasn’t a reason why the show was in such a small venue. Within 10 minutes in, I began to love the fact that this theatre was chosen. From the very first song the performers entice you in. I didn’t know who these characters were, or whether I should like them but I felt their energy.

The show is based around three characters. One who seeks a life outside the limitations of his hometown, finding himself mixed up in drunks, girls and a friend who only means bad news. His two friends head in different directions, one joins the Army whilst the other is left at home with his pregnant girlfriend. The story reflects the music of Green Day well, showing the effects of a government influenced society, forced to live their lives through certain rules and regulations.

The show establishes the scene the minute you take your seat, as a TV that hangs down the middle of the stage flickers between news reports on the destruction of the Twin Towers and an America suffering from war and other man made destruction.

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Cue those electric guitars and heavy drum solo’s. The productions jumps straight to fifth gear and only slows down in certain parts that make you really feel for our protagonists. The three main leads offer three varied voices that gives each song their own uniqueness, and the supporting cast shine in the moments they are given to rule the stage.

X-Factor finalist Amelia Lily plays the main love interest and shows her impressive vocal range, and fits in well with her punk rock dressed cast. The opening lyrics of Green Day’s single American Idiot explain the show well, ‘Don’t wanna be an America/Don’t want a nation under the new media”. While the show isn’t going to go down in history of one of the greatest, it is a refreshing change from the big ballad filled plays that charge an arm and a leg to see. American Idiot uses it simplicity to the extreme max, and adds to the enjoyment and impressiveness of each of its performers. If you don’t have any plans this weekend then I suggest you get your tickets now.

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