REVIEW – Green Day’s American Idiot, Empire Theatre

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WORDS: Alice Green

iI you’re up for partial nudity, continuous swearing and hits such as “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Holiday”, Green Day’s American Idiot is for you. 

Newton Faulkner and X Factor starlet Amelia Lily take centre stage in a cautionary tale like no other in this punk-rock opera.

All punk rock fans will know of teen angst hero the Jesus of Suburbia – whether you’ve grown up with his name blasted into your ears or later fallen for the exciting anti-propaganda chants of Billy Joe Armstrong, the icon is forever in our hearts (yep, I’m getting personal here). So, as Green Day’s American Idiot tells the story of this Jesus’ embodiment, it’s worth a #throwback.

The show begins with boredom and hatred for the post-9/11 world as we meet a trio of men who desire a new life. With aims of rebellion, Johnny (Faulkner), Tunny (Cellen Chugg Jones) and Will (Steve Rushton) decide to take off in search of greatness beyond the final bus stop.

The three friends’ visions of grandeur are derailed almost instantaneously as a typical teen mishap prevents Will from joining, and the mesmerising bright lights of war advertisements (and half-naked dancers) lures Tunny to the Army.

With his friends gone, Johnny proceeds to hunt for the life that they had longed for. However, his ambitions surpass his ability to control his surroundings and he ends up facing a spiral into a deep drug-fuelled darkness.

As the drugged-up blur encompasses Jonny, the theatre is completely silent for the first time that night, entirely gripped by the compassion and a new-found connection to the anti-hero. Even with the tense atmosphere caused by dead silence, newbie actor, Faulkner, handles the role like a pro.

Lucas Rush’s depiction of St Jimmy is played with such terrifying accuracy that it is easy to see the temptation that encapsulated Johnny.

But don’t be put off by the whole darkness and destruction storyline, American Idiot does prompt a few laughs along the way – as well as the energy from the actors causing a buzz in the audience and an ever-so-close to overwhelming sound.

With individual scenes from the trio overlapping on stage and the music of the punk rock heroes (reinvigorated by the power of the chorus line), the audience is  gripped to their seats both in anticipation and fear of being blown away by the sheer volume of sound blasting out the speakers. Although, with the sublime melodies and harmonies that Whatshername (Lily) and others showcase, it’s definitely not a bad thing.

So, if you’re up for partial nudity, continuous swearing and hits such as “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Holiday” then this is definitely something for you.

American Idiot
Liverpool Empire Theatre
21st – 25th June 2016

Remaining performances: Thurs 7.30pm, Fri 5pm & 8.30pm, Sat 4pm & 8pm

Tickets from £12 (£14.90 online/phone)
Empire Box Office ¦ 0844 871 3017 ¦

Running time: 1hr 40 mins plus interval


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