Wednesday, 5 December 2012

American Idiot - review

Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)

Where's Peen been? 
Hammersmith Apollo, London
Was Peen keen?

The sensational cast and creative behind this flawless production tease London with a short season of the smash-hit musical at the huge Hammersmith Apollo to see out their tour of the UK and Ireland. It’s a huge moment in the history of London theatre and to miss it, especially if you’re a Green Day fan, should frankly be a crime.

Photo: John Daughtry
It’s a post 9/11 world between February and December when we’re introduced to the miserable lives of Johnny (the superb Alex Nee), Will (Casey O’Farrell) and Tunny (Thomas Hettrick) desperate to escape Jingletown in the States. It’s set in a very recent past and climate not at all unfamiliar to us: they’re tired, and don’t want to be a victim of the media. Given the circumstances that surround this production – it’s a Tony award-winning musical doing its first professional run in town based on Green Day who, let’s face it, aren’t short on followers – it was surprising to see such a big amount of empty seats on the shows opening night in the Capital.

Photo: Turner Rouse, JR
This production fully deserves to sell out every night but the vast auditorium in the Apollo outweighs that fact almost entirely. Putting it in a much smaller theatre would allow an emotional attachment from all four corners of the auditorium, and probably even a few tears at the stunning performances of Boulevard of Broken Dreams, 21 Guns and Wake Me Up When September Ends, which were wholly touching moments but too far detached to evoke much feeling. 

Vocally, this was an irrefutably exceptional performance. Nothing beyond the vocals really falls short either, minus a couple of small technical issues that are happily forgiven. Nee handles the role of Johnny with sensitivity and strength whilst leading the story and the faultless cast pretty much the whole time. With the band on stage too (giving the slight acceptable feeling that we’re just at a Green Day gig), director Michael Mayer had quite a logistical difficulty on his hands which was managed with ease and precision: the whole thing is perfectly smooth, subtle and seamless. Some superb choreography (Steven Hoggett) can be found during Give Me Novacaine especially, whilst at a very high standard throughout.    

If we could pick the show up and move it to a venue at least half the size, there would be little more to say than “just perfect”. Even if you’re not an avid Green Day fan, this is still for you. For now it remains stunning, admirable and regrettably short lived.  

Photo: Litwin
This production runs until 16 December 2012. 
@HamApollo @AmericanIdiotUK 

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