Theater West End
Music by Green Day
Book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer
Lyric by Billie Joe Armstrong
Directed Derek Critzer
Choreography by Michelle Alagna
Musical Direction by Rebekah Pyatt
Live theater slowly climbs out of the Covid bunker and peeks outside to see what’s left. The saggy theater seat that survived the demise of Theater Downtown may be gone for ever at Theatre West End, but punk rock is tough, and these post-modern post-teens set out to reveal their innermost pain, worries and three chord angst. Is there a plot here amount the power chords and frustrated lyrics? Sort of but it requires a sharp ear to catch it. I admit I cheated and looked it up, decoding it on the fly was beyond my current skillset. I’ll summarize as follows: Three young men find themselves at loose ends in 2004. Johnny (Claude Dylan Intriago-Godwin) wanders the streets and experiments with heroin while his aptly names girlfriend “Whatsername” (Iris Johnson) debates sticking with him. Tunny (Phillips Edward) reduced his social safety net to a steady diet of television until he signs up for a war and loses a leg. And Will (Zachary Smith) gets his girlfriend pregnant, and then retreats into the bottle. Uplifting? Don’t get any bright ideas.
But while the plot is weak, the music is strong and the bands assembled by Mr. Critzer doesn’t just rock out, it adds a viola and cello to give the story a classy atmosphere. The set is minimal and industrial: metal fencing and TV backlighting forms a bed of activity for the enthusiastic cast. With the constant motion and power chords, its hard to separate characters but that’s ok, the post punk music maximally fills in for any staging or dialog minimalization. Yeah, its punk, and its punk from that island of brilliance between the original Pistols and Devo sound and today’s more studied kabuki theater of punk. We know these people, are we dance with these people, and we are these people: middle aged punk rockers still looking for enough anger to get us out of bed every morning.