Better than air

By Allan I. Ross

'American Idiot' a soaring triumph

A post-ironic pop-punk opera about the futility of rebellion, “American Idiot” is challenging. It´s exciting. It’s inciting.

It’s triumphant.

“The end of the world is over.”

It breathes musical life into that peculiar adult adolescence that sometimes strikes the generation that came of age between the Cold War and the War on Terror. It asks, then dares to answer: Is life a waste of time? Who am I hurting when I hurt myself? What the hell am I rebelling against, anyway?

The stage is a bewildering busy-ness of inflammatory religious imagery and calculated absurdity, like a Hieronymus Bosch painting set to seditious, rousing rock music — with cello and tympani, no less.

The perpetual on-stage movement is the next step in the evolution of modern dance; it’s beyond self-aware — it’s so sick of itself, it’s simply reveling in the kinetics.

Drugs, love notes and guitar picks are furiously employed and consumed, and occasionally belched out into the front row.

Actors spit out the bleeped obscenities of songs edited for the radio and flip off the back row. They’re angry. They’re bored, They’re horny.

They’re lonely.

“Dear Dad… or God… or whatever.”

Two modern day Icaruses (Icari?) shoot from their suburban nests, but fly too close to the sun, leaving them with life-changing scars — yet sparing them to carry on the message. If you don’t live, you can’t sing the song.

“Last Night on Earth” is what The Beatles would have scrawled onto their hotel room walls if they’d gotten tangled up in heroin. “Give Me Novacaine” is a plaintive, pleading lost soul begging for anything to give it meaning. “Jesus of Suburbia” is the combined guilt of every privileged white kid who wants to know what it feels like to be hungry. To be starving.

“It’s better than air.”

“American Idiot”
Wharton Center
Through April 11
7:30 p.m.