The University of Edinburgh’s musical theatre troupe the Footlights burst onto the Fringe scene with the rocking American Idiot, a jukebox musical set to the music of Green Day. With it’s electric and infectious energy, the company provide a highly entertaining hour at C Venues.
As you enter the space, the cast awaits you, holding various masks of American pop culture figures – from President Trump to Taylor Swift – illuminated by cell phones. Green Day’s original hit song, American Idiot, was written in response to American action in the Iraq War- and how pertinent of a show to put on, 15 years later, in the midst of the United States’ current political climate. But the story doesn’t dip much into specific politics. It follows three friends, Johnny, Will, and Tunny (Matt Galloway, Fraser Mycroft, and Liam Bradbury) living in just another suburb in the back of beyond. They decide to rebel and move to the city – but the real world and all its highs and lows await them.
The show crackles with teenage rebellion – and obviously it helps to have such a young cast. The anger and frustration produced on stage is incredibly believable. The scenes are chaotic- in a good way. If you blink, you’ll miss some of choreographers Anna Steen and Maddie Flint’s eclectic routines. ‘Holiday’, early in the show, is a particular highlight, showcasing all of the extremely talented company. Praise must be given to the amazing supporting cast, who seem to never stop belting their harmonies on and off stage and powering through another angry dance routine. The show also benefits greatly from a live band, who barely stop and are clearly passionate about the show.
I also enjoyed the casting decisions made- after Tunny returns from war, emotionally and physically broken, he falls in love with The Extraordinary Girl – or in this case, guy. Played by Trevor Lin, their romance adds another poignant layer to the story centred around finding meaning in life. Additionally, Will’s ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, Heather (Eleanor Crowe) shows up at the end with a rocker chick girlfriend (Kirsten Ines) in lieu of boyfriend.
Hearing the re-interpretation of the songs that I had heard all through my childhood strikes many chords- nostalgia morphs into a new understanding of the songs and the message the show is trying to get across. And it is all carried on the backs of a gold-star cast.