These three particular disillusioned friends are Johnny (Tom Milner), Will (Samuel Pope) and Tunny (Joshua Dowen). Johnny and Tunny drop their homes in pursuit of "finding themselves" in the city, while Will has more homely issues dealing with his now pregnant girlfriend Heather (Siobhan O'Driscoll).
It's a strong enough story to create a show around, and with Green Day's remarkable lyrics on American Idiot (and a few extra choice songs in the second act), it proves affecting sometimes in a surprising way. The first act is unquestionably the strongest, the best first act I have had the pleasure to see at Milton Keynes actually, the best songs are here, and the best pieces of choreography are also. This is often where the strength is on this show, in the musical set pieces.
Racky Plews, who both directs and leads choreography has created some vibrant pieces full of energy and it's amazing at times that the cast can maintain it for the entire show. The choreography is neat in that it feels perfectly in keeping with how these people would dance, full on rugged, and almost possessed at times, and weaving sexual acts into them at times, it both amusing and at turns probably leaving you grateful you are not sitting next to your gran.
Dowen deals with Tunny's story with as much emotion as he can muster from what is virtually devoid of dialogue, he and the other leads force their actions through the lyrics of the songs as much as they can, and much of the time it is very effective. So, while more dialogue might have been beneficial at times, it also, as a result, would have broken the drive of the show, so, perhaps here the writers have got it about right.
The collections of songs are at their best in act one, the weaving Jesus of Suburbia is a stunning piece of evolving music over nine minutes, and the style changes put into the musical arrangement are amazing, including the haunting moment from O'Driscoll. Milner's delivery of Boulevard of Broken Dreams is also another highlight, as is Wake Me Up in September, the best moment of act two.
American Idiot was a surprise, I don't think it is for everyone, despite the surprising fact of how varied the audience was. It's perhaps one to chose your companion carefully with, but in equal turns, it's also maybe for all generations. It's rude, crude, abrasive throughout, but it's also tremendously good. It's more than just a rock concert bolted onto a thin storyline that you might be led to be believed by some, and from me, there is no question it comes highly recommended, if only for that quite stunning first act.
A stunning sensory overload of both brilliant music and choreography create an amazingly strong show.
Performance reviewed: Tuesday 23rd April 2019 at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes.
American Idiot runs at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 27th April 2019 before continuing its tour.
Further details about Milton Keynes Theatre can be found at http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/milton-keynes-theatre/
Photos: Mark Dawson Photography