Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll, terrific entertainment!

American Idiot

Selladoor Productions, Piu Entertainment & Kalin Productions , New Theatre Cardiff , January-29-19
American Idiot by Selladoor Productions, Piu Entertainment & Kalin Productions This dynamic young ensemble of brilliant young singers and dancers bring us a powerful interpretation of Green Days pre-punk music that appeals to teenagers from 16 – sixty and beyond.

There’s some irony in that the show entitled American Idiot shows us George Bush on a very large television set addressing the citizens of America and images of 9/11 as we take our seats.

We go into the apathy years that come after, but all is quickly forgotten as the on-stage band blasts into the opening number and this great team of young, very talented performers burst onto the stage and the spirited choreography from Director Racky Plews sets our pulses racing and they keep racing right to the very end of the show.

Very soon the pace changes and we are confronted with a group of ‘lost’ teenagers wandering the streets. There’s lot of aimless vulgarity and lascivious grinning and groping.

This is very much an ensemble production with every performer on top form but the main focus is on three of the lost lads. Johnny, given a superb performance by Tom Milner, Tunny, another strong presence from Joshua Dowen and Will, Samuel Pope completing this ‘lost’ trio.

Will soon settles on a sofa on the balcony with Heather; soon they have a baby. Both performers, Samuel Pope and Siobhan O’Driscoll bring a touch of parental warmth into this otherwise vacuous environment. But this is short lived, as fed up with Will’s drug and drinking, Heather takes her baby and walks out on him. All this performed with a gripping reality

The compelling success of this, sometimes hard-hitting show comes from the excellence of its highly sensitive and talented cast.

The quality of the acting is equalled by the singing. Johnny, Tunny and Will captivate us very early with their first number ‘I Jesus of Suburbia’. They are joined by the full company for the next two numbers and the voices fill the auditorium. You know, it’s a sort of privilege to hear this stuff. Though I certainly wouldn’t want to fall into Johnny’s way of life.

Things do get better for him when he meets Whatshername, a stunner and a stunning acting and singing performance from Sam Lavery. They soon get it together, fortunately for us beneath the American flag. Very soon drug dealer St Jimmy brings upset to the ‘happy couple’. Luke Friend brings us a very real character full of charm and slippyness.

Like the characters within it, the musical itself seems to wander a bit, not quite sure of the way it wants to go. However this distraction has a curious appeal of its own. It does find a very strong identity with the power and strength of the ensemble’s gifted acting, singing and dancing performances.

Storywise things start to go down hill. Whatshername has had enough of Johnny’s drug taking and leaves him. Tunny returns from the war, wheelchair-bound and even more disillusioned.

Tom Milner brings an extraordinary realism to his totally destructive drug taking sequence towards the end of the show. Soon after the three friends, Johnny, Tunny and Will meet up again, still full of longings. They sing a beautiful song ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’. And the russet leaves fall over the stage. Unexpectedly, hopefulness arises in Johnny and he sings again of Whatshername. The whole company come on to the stage and give us a huge and very happy surprise. Go along so that you can be surprised too.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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