"Thrashing chords and a wonderfully warped and manic letting-rip"
-The Independent-

"Wit and warmth"
-The Telegraph-

"Newton Faulkner is impressively natural"
-The Times-

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A powerful performance from an amazingly energetic cast

Critic Rating

2 September 2016, Arts Theatre
Susannah Martin Susannah Martin
Green Day’s 2004 album American Idiot may seem old-school, but Racky Plews’ rip-roaring production of the same name remains as current as ever. London’s Arts Theatre is the perfect grungy venue for this shabby-chic production designed by Sara Perks, with graffiti-laden walls and concrete surroundings that plunge you straight into the depths of a disenfranchised youth.

American Idiot opens with a punch, quite literally, as Plews’ stomping choreography accompanies a rousing rendition of the title song. It’s actually difficult not to stand up and join in, as teenage memories come flooding back and the visceral energy of the ensemble hits you square in the face. In fact, throughout the production Plews’ choreography packs so much punch that you wish it was on a slightly larger stage to be able to breathe a bit more.

Lawrence Libor’s Johnny seems tame at first, coming across as a timid lost-boy until “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, where he pops the audience in his palm with a voice uncannily similar to Billy Joe Armstrong’s. Accompanied by hooded figures in skewed neon paint, this number was particularly memorable. Alexis Gerred provides stellar support as Tunny, with rasping vocals that are perfectly at home in this rock musical, and his duet with Karina Hind, “Extraordinary Girl”, was a high point of the show.

American Idiot rocks along nicely, but amps up the volume on the entrance of Lucas Rush as the catastrophic St Jimmy. From here, the action becomes more fast-paced, more dangerous and picks up on a disillusioned post-9/11 America. Rush’s voice is impressive and he compliments Libor’s Johnny nicely, providing some truly stirring scenes. Amelia Lily’s “Whatsername” may not appear often, but her performance of “Letterbomb” certainly leaves a mark and it’s clear that she’s at home in this musical.

Situated above the cast on the rafters is the band, whose presence on stage definitely adds to the overall anarchic feeling, as a metal grate is pulled to and fro to hide and reveal them. And when you can see the band enjoying the music, it makes the entire audience start to jig in their seats. It’s a powerful performance from an amazingly energetic cast, proving that no matter how much time passes, American Idiot remains as pertinent as ever.

Reviewed by Susannah Rose Martin.

Paul Taylor
The production negotiates the shifts of mood with flair and incisiveness – there's a hilarious recruitment video that makes life in the army look like the sexiest possible way of getting in shape and there are live cheerleaders with pom poms in one hand and bombs in the other.
Rachel Ward
Yet with its wit and warmth it is likely to win over traditional theatregoers. To paraphrase Green Day: it’s something unpredictable, but you might just have the time of your life.
The Times
If you like your West End musicals to be glitzy and toe-tapping, this one might make your hair stand on end. American Idiot hails from the alternative school of pop-punk grunge, drawing on the Grammy-winning US band Green Day’s concept album of the same name, plus some of their other hits.
Alexander Corona
The intimate Arts Theatre provides the perfect setting to experience the production’s return, and the cast and musical arrangements are near infallible. Tom Kitt has taken songs originally composed for a single person and rendered them brilliantly for a full stage company, performed to perfection by a star-speckled cast.
Chris Bennion
But does he sound the part? Well, yes and no. With a soulful ballad, of which he has a couple, Faulkner can do no wrong. But during the rockier numbers, he struggled to be heard above the din.