The Attic Collective bring Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht’s classic 1928 subversive opera to life with a twist at The King’s Theatre Edinburgh for a far too short run of only three performances. The Threepenny Opera is the third production (Lysistrata and War In America being the first two) from this innovative young company.
Before going onto the actual review of this show, it is I think important to highlight exactly what “The Attic Collective” is, and why it in its own right is so important to the ongoing future of theatre. The “Attic Collective” has been formed by the organisation behind both The King’s Theatre and The Festival Theatre – The Festival City Theatres Trust - and its aim is to give young actors aged between 18 and 26 years of age the opportunity to develop their skills and work with industry professionals to produce work to a full industry standard. This is The Festival City Theatres Trust investing heavily in the talent of tomorrow and the future of theatre, and this (and the previous productions) is already a huge mark of this project’s success.
It is always a bit unfair when writing a review like this featuring emerging talents that you do by default concentrate on the lead roles of any production, but part of the strength of the “Attic Collective” is that they are teaching these young actors the skills to be all round professionals and not simply “lead roles”, so although you may not be mentioned in this review specifically, it will be interesting to watch how your future careers develop.
The Threepenny Opera is probably best known for the song “Mack The Knife” (and probably the Bobby Darin or Frank Sinatra version). Taking the lead role of our rather unsavoury character Macheath is Charlie West and he is simply outstanding in this part. When you have that level of confidence at this young an age, you have to wonder just how far a person can go not only in theatre, but as an entertainer in general. Equally impressive as Mackie’s new bride Polly Peachum is Kirsty Punton who brings an almost Tim Burtonesque portrayal to her character. Together Charlie West and Kirsty Punton make a great theatrical duo and get that delicate balance of humour just right in this production.
Other good performances too from Hannah Bradley as Mrs Peachum, Max Reid as Mr Peachum and Sally Cairns as Jenny. If I have missed your name and character out here, sorry, it is no reflection on your performance, just limited space in this review to mention everyone in what was a very impressive collective production.
Also interesting here to see how our characters used all the space available in The King’s Theatre tonight using not only the stage, but the seating areas and the boxes. If one very small minus though it would be that, depending on where you were seated in the theatre, it was sometimes hard to see where the characters were and you got a disembodied voice. Also, staging some of the action to the extreme right and left wings of the stage did make clear sight lines difficult from some seats.
I am not sure that the “technical failure” worked too well as it did leave some confusion in the audience and took a little while for everyone to get back into the show.
This was still a very impressive production from “The Attic Collective” and I hope that many more people get to hear of this company and support their work in future productions.
Review by Tom King