Opera review: The Threepenny Opera; Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

All of a sudden, as if out of nowhere, a voice and character emerged in this student production of The Threepenny Opera that raised the bar to a truly professional level.

It was that of Claire Marie Seddon, who plays Lucy, the girl who helps hero MacHeath escape prison at the end of the second act.

That’s how long it took for last night’s opening performance to come truly alive and for its cast of final-year music theatre students to begin communicating Weill’s anti-operatic music and Brecht’s theatrical brutalism with the intensity and passion they are clearly capable of, and in the attitudinal way conceived by director Adrian Osmond.

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But it was Seddon’s performance that did it. She oozed charisma, projected her words, both spoken and sung, as if she meant every one of them. What’s more, she doubled as a trumpet-playing band member.

For the intriguing concept here is to fuse the musicians and actors. So Polly also plays the piccolo, Tiger Brown plays cello and Mrs Peachum accompanies her own ballad on the piano. It’s a neat Brechtian touch, but it did present its own problems in the overture, in terms of balance.

Perhaps that was simply first night nerves. A tartan-suited Scott Gilmour as MacHeath, gradually threw aside caution, allowing his gregarious character to open up. Similarly, Craig Anderson’s Peachum grew in grim stature, and Kirsty MacLaren’s Polly was more feisty after meeting her match in Lucy.

The performance screamed for an icy edge to give definition to a nebulous set. When it came, the real talent emerged.

Rating: ****