American Idiot

An odd combination of nostalgia and existentialism, American Idiot continues to remain incredibly current.

more than just a musical

American Idiot is not a traditional musical in any sense. It might be better described as a collection of songs from the Green Day album of the same name depicting the paths realistically available from the American Dream. It is more than a jukebox musical. The songs are snapshots of situations that haunt American society, like the dreariness of suburbia, joining the military for lack of other options, disaffection, and teenage pregnancy due to lack of adequate education or termination.

The musical amounts to a controlled existential outburst at the current (2004) state of American political and domestic culture. The plot follows Johnny (Nick Dore) as his alter ego, St Jimmy (Sorrel Brown) leads Johnny to make disastrous choices as he tries to navigate life outside the suburbs. Even though there is a narration, the main action takes place within the songs themselves. This means that the burden falls squarely on the actors to build the characters and tell the story without having the regular tools of musical theatre like dialogue or songs that fit neatly into and further the plot.

Overall, it was a strong showing by the cast. The songs meld into each other so that it seems more like an exhibition of Green Day’s work rather than a musical; a rock concert rather than a show with a flowing narrative. The creative team pulled out all the stops in order to create a typical music concert-like atmosphere that did not appear to be grounded in naturalism. For example, Andrew Laidlaw’s set design was simple in that it played with the rock concert aspect of the musical by hiding pieces of set that would contextualise the action onstage within black concert equipment boxes. The lighting design by Olly Levett was phenomenal. Even though some cues appear late, the lighting added to the atmosphere within songs and helped to guide us through the events, not shying away from using effects that would more commonly be seen at live music concerts. Whilst the whole ‘punk’ aspect was interacted with, at times it felt as if that’s all there was to it and it could have been leaned further into. The emphasis on the concert aspects meant that the musical shied away from being the political statement that it is intended to be.

All the cast are strong performers, and it is clear that they are familiar with and passionate about the source material. Brown as St. Jimmy is particularly talented in the sense that she completely thwarts expectations. She darts around the stage with incredible energy, and always draws our attention simply by being the most dynamic presence onstage. Tara Blackburn (Whatshername), is also another interesting case. In most of her appearances, she does not steal the spotlight, for good reason, as the character is herself a plot point. However, Blackburn’s performance of Letterbomb is a much needed energy boost after 21 Guns and a number of songs that blend together into anonymity. In Letterbomb, Blackburn steals the show as she performs a spirited dance number whilst performing what can only be interpreted as an incredibly empowering anthem.

Of course, the hits like American Idiot and Holiday are memorable and live up to their reputation and hype. The one that is by far the most touching and speaks to the heart of the entire musical is Wake Me Up When September Ends. This is when the show’s true message came to the forefront the most. It is an emotional moment which was so well executed that it demonstrated the care taken by the actors and creative team to create an incredibly thoughtful performance required by the song.

Incredibly current, this musical is difficult to watch at times because of how applicable it is to the current domestic situation in the United States. This production is lacking, because the emphasis appears to be on the Green Day part of the musical rather than the political and cultural commentary that is at the heart of the album. American Idiot is more than just a musical, but that does not come across in this production.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Katerina Partolina Schwartz

The Cockpit

Ordinary Days

The Turbine Theatre

For You I'd Wait

Bridewell Theatre

American Idiot

Greenwich Theatre

Shake the City

Above the Stag Theatre

Sidney Fox's Crime

Arts Theatre West End

Bonnie and Clyde


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Sedos presents Green Day’s American Idiot, the Tony Award-winning show based on their album of the same name. An energy-fuelled rock musical, American Idiot uses Billie Joe Armstrong’s powerful lyrics to shine new light on the early part of the 21st Century and holds a mirror up to an America desperately trying to stay relevant as the world moves on.

Most Popular See More

The Lion King

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets