Green Day’s stage adaptation of their 2004 concept album, “American Idiot”, came to a close in Glasgow at the weekend after a six consecutive nights at The Armadillo.

“American Idiot” tells the story of three childhood friends, Johnny, Tunny and Will, who, disillusioned with dead-end days of dope-smoking and “talking shit”, decide to flee their decaying, downtrodden town for the excitement and possibilities of city life.

However, things don’t go to plan.

Will finds escape from stifling surburbia impossible when impending teenage fatherhood forces him to stay and support girlfriend, Heather. Isolated and frustrated, Will slips into a deep depression of booze-filled days and cannabis haze before Heather leaves him with baby daughter in tow.

Tunny and Johnny flee to the city.

Tunny struggles with city life and enlists in the US Army after being taken in by the “glory of war” but faces a grim reality when he is injured in action and loses his leg. During his rehabilitation, Tunny finds solace in Extraordinary Girl.

Following Tunny’s departure. Johnny feels angry and alone but soon meets St Jimmy, an erractic drug dealer whose reckless and chaotic lifestyle is quickly adopted by Johnny and drug-fuelled days and sex-charged nights with Whatsername become the norm. St Jimmy is later revelealed to be a durg-addled manifestation of Johnny’s mind. Johnny’s increasing paranoia frustrate and frighten Whatsername who deserts him. Johnny realises it’s time to clean up his act and banishes St Jimmy (in a metaphorical suicide) before getting a desk job. However, Johnny quickly bores of this and decides it’s time he went home.

“American Idiot” concludes where it began; the three friends are reunited in deadbeat surburbia and despite tensions between them, embrace and are happy to be home again.

“American Idiot” is a high-energy rollercoaster and a gritty take on the suffocation of surburbia that affects millions of young people across America and beyond.

Taking on songs already made famous by a high-profile band is nothing short of a challenge but the cast of “American Idiot” attack it fearlessly and appear to enjoy it immensely along the way.

“Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” are delivered by the male cast in a similar style to how Green Day perform them but are the undeniable stand-out tracks of the show.

“American Idiot” was delivered in a frenzy but minus the passionate way-cry of Billie Joe’s frustration at a Bush Presidency making it more Glee than Green Day.

“Letterbomb” was a zesty affair and Whatsername’s female lead was a different but welcome change whereas Heather’s high-pitched take on “Dearly Beloved” in “Jesus Of Surbubia” was more American Idol than American Idiot.

“Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” may have been an obvious conclusion but was warmly embraced by the audience like an old friend with most taking to their feet and clapping along.

The choreography in “American Idiot” matched the fire of the soundtrack and it’s unpolished finish gave it depth and grit but more often than not, it resembled a more sophisticated version of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” routine.

Alex Nee’s potrayal of Johnny echoed Billie Joe Armstrong in both action and dialogue and he excelled in capturing the audience’s attention but his sarcastic humour was sometimes lost on them.

Trent Saunders erractic take on St Jimmy was more camp than chaotic.

Thomas Hettrick playing Tunny went throught the biggest transition; from finger-flipping ‘frat-boy’ to broken war hero, Hettrick’s enlisting in the US Army scene (“Are We The Waiting?”) was both poignant and heartbreaking.

Will’s teen pregnancy woes took a back seat and his presence at stage right was sometimes distracting.

The stage adaptation of “American Idiot” does not surpass the album, but it has everything that your parents would never approve of; drug-use, simulated sex, swearing and rock ‘n’ roll.

Now, that’s fucking punk rock!

 

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