Green Day’s American Idiot – Play Review

Directed by Jeffrey Bracco, “Green Day’s American Idiot” at CityLights in San Jose, tells the powerful story of young people on their own quest for meaning in life. The story is set in a post 9/11 time in history, but it can be true of any time when society is preoccupied with its own challenges, when the young people are forgotten, and left to walk their own path of broken homes and broken dreams.  The musical made its debut on Broadway in 2010 and earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Musical.  Punk rock band, Green Day with vocalist/ guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong has scored several hit albums and top selling songs.

Don’t wanna be an American idiot.
Don’t want a nation under the new mania
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
The subliminal mind fuck America.
Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alienation.
Where everything isn’t meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We’re not the ones who’re meant to follow.
For that’s enough to argue.

“Dearly beloved, are you listening?”   These are not just “Tales from another broken home”.  Each one is a story oozing with pain and a gripping sense of alienation.

I’m the son of rage and love
The Jesus of Suburbia
From the bible of none of the above
On a steady diet of
Soda pop and Ritalin
No one ever died for my sins in hell
As far as I can tell
At least the ones I got away with
And there’s nothing wrong with me
This is how I’m supposed to be
In a land of make believe
That don’t believe in me

Buried in an all consuming sense of meaninglessness and alienation among many young people (nearly two dozen actors), is the story of three teenagers, Johnny (Joey Piscane), Tunny (Andrew Erwin), and Will (Tarif Pappu).  In a life devoid of meaning and excitement, their minds saturated with violent TV programs, they decide to leave their homes and escape to the city.  But Will’s girlfriend Heather (Melissa Baxter) gets pregnant.  Meanwhile, in the city, Johnny falls for Whatsername (Danielle Mendoza) but is unable to kick his drug habit.  Tunny goes off to the war in the Middle East and loses a limb in the war, loses his heart to Extraordinary Girl (Taylor Sanders) who nurses his injuries and seemingly loses his mind to narcotics, he’s been taking for pain.  It is heart-rending to see the numbing and overwhelming pain that leaves them little recourse in the present and less hope for the future as these young people are left alone to walk the path of their broken dreams.

Take away the sensation inside
Bitter sweet migraine in my head
It’s like a throbbing tooth ache of the mind
I can’t take this feeling anymore
Drain the pressure from the swelling
The sensation’s overwhelming
Give me a long kiss goodnight and everything will be alright
Tell me that I won’t feel a thing
So give me Novacaine
Out of body and out of mind
Kiss the demons out of my dreams
I get the funny feeling, that’s alright
Jimmy says it’s better than here
I’ll tell you why

Boulevard of broken dreams………

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone
I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one and I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk a…
My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
‘Til then I walk alone
Ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, aaah-ah,
Ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah
I’m walking down the line
That divides me somewhere in my mind
On the border line
Of the edge and where I walk alone
Read between the lines
Of what’s fucked up and everything’s alright
Check my vital signs
To know I’m still alive and I walk alone

There are minimal props in Ron Gasparinetti’s scenic design.  Flickering television screens, few chairs and ladders thrown about and graffiti scattering the floor is a metaphor for the generation left to fend for itself, strewn about and falling through the cracks, surfacing on and off for some air and some hope for the future.   The play will run at CityLights till August, 21st.


  1. #1 by Ramji Patel on July 24, 2016 - 10:42 am


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