Many would describe it as an apt time to be looking at the life of Robert Burns. Third Degree Youth Theatre’s world premiere of musical Rabbie is then a timely as well as affectionate celebration of the Scottish bard. A family friendly and enjoyable performance that is approached with great maturity by its young cast.
This heartfelt, inclusive school production gives the opportunity to showcase the musical and theatrical talent that is clearly being fostered amongst Edinburgh’s youth theatre
The young Adam Motion suits the part well as the play’s namesake and shows great promise in taking on such a brave and challenging main role. The group as a whole tackle some very difficult vocal parts and show great talent and maturity considering their youth, although some adaptations to better suit individuals’ vocal ranges and strengths could perhaps have been utilised.
The play follows Burns’ journey from ploughing the fields of Ayrshire, his love affair with Jean Armour, his subsequent publishing, move to Edinburgh and return to his rural life. Modernising Burns’s attempts to catalogue traditional Scottish songs that were in danger of being forgotten, the stage became a Scotified X-Factor complete with ‘The Burns Factor’ judging panel and stage. Although the spectacle of a giant haggis waddled onstage to warble away was a rather surprising addition, the modernisation allowed for the showcase of some of the more sidelined characters and was entertaining for both younger and older audience members. One teen in particular, emerging to the forefront cradling his guitar, had such a beautiful voice that it would have been a huge shame for him to have been ignored. The insert gave other members of the chorus a time to shine.
Some rather vital details are seemingly skipped over– for instance, the circumstances of Burns’ death and his infidelities– and the ending rather abrupt. However this heartfelt, inclusive school production gives the opportunity to showcase the musical and theatrical talent that exists and is clearly being fostered amongst Edinburgh’s youth theatre all year round. The play exhibits several talented young actors that may be gracing larger stages before long.