Still one of Green Day’s, and their genre’s, pinnacle albums, American Idiot, is a perturbing, emotive piece narrating a new American youth coming to terms with a post 9/11 world. There’s a lot more to it than the typical teenage angst most tabloids would associate millennials with, but regrettably, Shoogly Peg‘s production is let down by glaring problems.
It’s a sung-through musical which tries desperately to tell a story using some excellent songs such as Know Your Enemy and Boulevard of Broken Dreams. The key characters are three young men – Tunny who turns to the army to “do something” with his life, Will who is “trapped” at home with his now pregnant girlfriend, and finally Johnny, who is the crux of the production, or should be. It isn’t even a case of likeability. By creating a drug pushing alter ego, struggling with the paradox of not caring and caring too much, Johnny should be an interesting character. He is not.
There’s a lesson to be learned here. Don’t skimp on equipment. The largest issue with tonight’s production lies in the audio. Barely a word can be deciphered. It’s hard to tell if 90% of the cast can sing. Tracks that you’re desperate to belt out and bang along to just become a drum solo with some mumbles; although often, when the audio equipment does function, you’d prefer it stay dead.
The amateur production advertises itself as being a professional standard, but mistakes happen. In respect, they don’t make a huge deal out of failed equipment; they struggle through. Excluding this though, nothing feels professional. A tightly packed stage washes out any connection with primary cast members. House lights remain up for the first five minutes with nothing happening on stage. Performances are awkward, and the decent live band drown out the vocals.
They get points for effort and intention, raised eyebrows for execution. The nuances associated with this kind of rock opera just feel lost. American Idiot handles delicate, often trivialised subjects, with big vocals. Shoogly Peg just don’t have the chops for it. Watching this production leaves you feeling like early noughties parents and The Sun imagined as they attempted to understand studded belts, the emo fringe and Panic! – awkward and disconnected.