“Don’t Wanna Be an American Idiot”

Rocking societies problems into realization, American Idiot runs Nov. 5 to 21.

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Laura Marshall

Beyond the Page Theatre Company’s rendition of rock musical “American Idiot” was a very well done performance that captured many elements right to fit the bill of the punk genre. It portrayed the central story straight forward so that it was easy to follow without holding your hand, but its atmosphere is where it shined best.           

“American Idiot” is a rock musical that is based off the Green Day album “American Idiot”. The musical in tales the journey of three friends, Johnny, Will, and Tunny, as they decide that they need to move on in their lives to bigger and better things than the suburbs they live in which they refer to as “Suburbia”. However, for personal reasons that keep him from leaving, Will must stay in suburbia while his friends leave, which throw him into a depression. Johnny and Tunny leave to start a new life in the city but Tunny soon leaves being recruited by the army.

The story then divulges into the aspects of coping with the unforeseen struggles of the paths the 3 friends take and the consequences of their actions taken while blinded by the light of the future and opportunity. It goes over controversial topics such as teen pregnancy, drug use, alcohol abuse, depression, mental illness, and culture shock.           

Beyond the Page Theatre Company’s rendition of the rock musical seemed to focus heavily on atmosphere. The set that they made was very admirable and it was perfect for the show. The setting of where they were did not depend on the set itself but the props that were on stage. The set constantly reminds you of the past of the characters on stage, the mentality of who they are, and the way we can see their feelings through a punk/ratty lens.        

The strongest evidence though of a focus on atmosphere is seen by the amazing performance of the nameless side characters. They truly capture, better than the main characters alone, the punk rock feel that Green Day and this story of the revelations is all about. Their movements were fluid yet random. The scenes that were definitely choreographed still had a huge sense of originality within what they were doing. Many of them were convincing enough to truly seem at one with real punk culture. It was more than impressive, it was phenomenal.        

The production itself always relies on symbolism, and this production stylized scenes in a very interesting way that set itself apart from other renditions of “American Idiot”. For instance, whenever the number is going to end and Will is supposed to be outed as being alone while everyone is scoring it big time, there is a brief moment as he is being outed where the music of the number is finished, but all we see is Will looking silent, taking it in for a brief few seconds before it all goes dark to change perspectives.

In these brief seconds, it best shows a sense of hopelessness. Without little details like this, it’s too difficult to connect with the characters of the show. Johnny is the only one who gets true dialogue out of songs, so even the smallest details matter to characterize and connect to the characters. Beyond The Page takes full advantage of this fact very well.

It is best shown in the end of the number of “Do You Know the Enemy”. At the end, the number goes from rocking out with the lyrics “Do you know the Enemy” to Johnny shouting it out at his love interest after being confused through hallucinations created by a mental illness. They personify the mental illness using the character St. Jimmy (John McFarlane) making him sing very angrily and intense. It goes from rocking out to a frightening sight of confusion and unprecedented anger created by a mental illness.

St. James picks up Johnny’s guitar in the hallucination of a number: "Do You Know The Enemy."
St. Jimmy picks up Johnny’s guitar in the hallucination of a number: “Do You Know The Enemy.”

It shows best his lowest state of being that we see, and it seems that he never redeems himself from that low. This dramatic moment comes out of nowhere and this works to its advantage. It amplifies the feeling of Johnny’s confusion, and I believe that this is the best part of the show. It draws the most tension and it perfectly shows the contrasts between what they are feeling emotionally and mentally versus the reality of their situation.
To best put it, this show was phenomenal. Its attention to detail and its extreme appeal to pathos of being young and rebellious, and the problems that many unfortunate souls collide with that are very connectable with, work very well. The atmosphere for the show is set up amazingly well. If you haven’t seen it I’d more than advise catching it before its out.