Grand Opera House Belfast
Until Saturday 2nd June 2016
Well, what to say about this rock musical, known the world over it seems but an unknown quantity to yours truly.
American Idiot is an award winning Broadway musical, coming to us from an explosive run in London and explosive is the word.
The story of three young men trying to get out of the rut of small time living and their search for the bright lights of post 9/11 New York, although this is a story that can fit any town or city anywhere in the world.
They pack up, stand at the bus stop waiting for a bus to take them to the big time, two get on, one is startled when his girlfriend suddenly appears telling him she is pregnant. Will he stay or will he go? Against his mates wishes, he stays and is trapped in marriage and fatherhood. The other two don’t fare well either as it happens. One joins the army and is brutally injured, the other falls into the trap of an unsuccessful love affaire and drugs.
Depressing stuff you might think but for me the energy from the stage is compelling. The language and adult content as it’s called, didn’t offend, these were young men are telling it like it is in their lives and they got the message across.
This is a musical written by a band I’d never heard of (sheltered upbringing) but Green Day, made up of musicians Mike Dirnt, Billie Joe Armstrong and Tre Cool, are well known to millions. Formed in 1986 they released the record American Idiot in 2004 and it reached number one in 19 countries and sold 15 million copies worldwide. Last year they were inducted to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.
This is their story so it’s authentic and the reality of the young men and their hopes and fears comes across. The story is told in music and dialogue but it’s the thumping rhythms that dominate, the lighting, the dancing, the humour and the dreadful sadness of young lives wasted.
It would be wrong to say this captivated the audience in its entirety – it didn’t and there were those who left at halftime but not too many and mostly over the age of 50! It’s a pity as the story becomes clear in the second half and there are a couple of still moments amongst the fury, one little oasis of calm when Johnny sings: ‘Wake me up when September ends.’ Timely with the situation of flux we’re in at the moment, wake me up when our ‘leaders’ get their act together. He also says you’ve got to learn to forget, hard lesson. I am a convert to Green Day and I congratulate the performers, who are also the musicians, and the crew who brought this show to Belfast.
More details at www.goh.co.uk