Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sat 20 Jan.
Sometimes as a reviewer you just want to say, ‘It’s fucking brilliant. Don’t read this review, just go see it.’ Green Day’s American Idiot is one of those occasions. So read on if you must, but definitely go see it.
Billie Joe Armstrong’s vision for American Idiot began when he wrote the album, released in 2004. Armstrong’s aim was to create a rock opera, a set of songs that told a bigger story, and fans loved it. Green Day achieved their first number one album with American Idiot.
In it, Armstrong tells the semi-autobiographical tale of Johnny, the Jesus of Suburbia, living in the wasteland of the great U.S. of A. Johnny’s life is an abyss of dysfunction; aimlessness and ambition ride side by side. Johnny and his mates, Tunny and Will, are desperate to get out of their dead-end town, Jingletown. Johnny and Tunny escape, only to find themselves still lost. Johnny finds love, but destroys it. Tunny finds purpose in war, but pays a high price for his patriotism. Will is left behind in Jingletown with his pregnant girlfriend. It seems all of America is Jingletown and there is no escape.
The women in their lives begin as poorly characterised silhouettes. They are shadows in the background of the angry, playful and slothful lives of the men. But as the show progresses, the women begin to find their voices. Will’s girlfriend, Tunny’s nurse and Johnny’s greatest love all nurture and care for the men who have been destroyed by the society in which they live. In Jingletown, it seems, men fuck up and women suffer, and then clean up the mess. But they don’t always stay.
American Idiot is a riot of energy and angst that filled the whole of Her Majesty’s Theatre. The songs are faithfully reproduced by a superb band that played with thrilling virtuosity throughout the entire performance. Adalita, in the role of St Jimmy, was absolutely luminescent as the devilish source of temptation. Adalita and Phil Jamieson alternate in the role of St Jimmy, depending on the night, and it would be fascinating to see how each of them interpret the Saint. Adalita brought the energy of a genuine rock goddess and her performance balanced out the slightly theatre-y vocal interpretation by the other performers.
It is worth mentioning the choreography by Lucas Newland, which was insightful and fresh. The lighting design by Matthew Marshall, Video Design by Craig Wilkinson and Set Design by Josh McIntosh were dynamic and dripping with energy. All the elements came together seamlessly to create a truly unique piece of musical theatre that was as topical as it was desperately sad. With references to President Donald Trump, it’s easy to see today’s America in Armstrong’s story.
So, if you’ve read this far, congratulations! You now know a little more about the show. But like I said, the only thing you really need to know is that you should go see it. It’s urgent and exhilarating and raw and painful and an absolute treat for fans of Green Day’s excellent and deeply political masterpiece.
Green Day’s American Idiot continues at Her Majesty’s Theatre, at various times, until Sun 28 Jan.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Image courtesy of Emma Brasier