Just when you think you know exactly what to expect from Green Day’s American Idiot, you find yourself teary-eyed, covered in goosebumps and laughing inappropriately between scenes at London’s Arts Theatre.
Having staked claim on the West End theatre only briefly until 27 September 2015, the award-winning musical goes beyond the task of simply slotting tracks from Green Day’s 2004 album into place.
Aaron Sidwell (best known for playing Steven Beale in EastEnders) is brilliant in the lead role, balancing his character’s natural charm and charisma with the internal breakdown that comes with being a self-destructive youngster in a post 9-11 America.
The trio of boyhood friends is completed by Steve Rushton and Alexis Gerred, who both take turns to shine in the limelight.
Luke Baker (whose stage credits include Sunny Afternoon, Hairspray and I Can’t Sing!) also stands out from the pack, alongside Lucas Rush as St. Jimmy and X Factor’s Amelia Lily, who takes up the role of Sidwell’s love interest – inevitably going on to break his heart in typical teen fashion.
Sidwell and Lily’s chemistry feels fun and believable on stage, thankfully so as the 350-seat theatre ensures their most intimate scenes don’t go unnoticed. It’s during a scene where Sidwell is spilling his heart out to Lily (asleep on their centre-stage bed) that his perfect comedy timing comes into play.
Despite the darkened plot that runs throughout American Idiot, there’s a positive realism that provides comfort to anyone who can relate. If the levels of teenage angst, family frustrations and friend fallouts are anything to go by, there’s something familiar at every turn.
From Sara Perks’ stage setting – think dirty graffiti and scrap yard-chic – and imaginative use of props (see the guitar cases used as bus headlights), to Racky Plews’ fiery and unapologetic choreography, American Idiot makes full use of the modest Arts Theatre stage.
Even if you think you’ll love American Idiot the musical, chances are there’s still something to ignite a new passion. Prepare to stomp on your theatre chair and storm the streets once you’ve seen this show.
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Green Day’s American Idiot is showing at the Arts Theatre, London, until 27 September 2015, book now at Ticketmaster.co.uk.