At a time of everyday hardship (the food banks, rampant cost-of-living, and refugee ships), there’s something decidedly off about this extravagant production. The Threepenny Opera was originally meant to rattle the German bourgeoisie (and so called because even the poorest could afford the price of a ticket and see their adversity given a voice). There will be few folks in today’s audiences rattled by Marxist Bertolt Brecht’s anger but plenty to admire about this timeless masterpiece. Perhaps inevitably, the work has lost much of its rawness in the 95 years since it was first performed.

That said, it’s a powerful piece of theatre whose sly humour can still make audiences squirm. Though, even with a generous interval at three hours-long, this is a test for non-devotees. The seven-piece orchestra keeps things tight, less percussive than the original. There’s much unexpected interplay between the musicians (in the raised pit) with the actors which gives this production an added dimension.

It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of the pioneering piece of music theatre that is Kurt Weill‘s score for The Threepenny Opera. The key to its success is its mix of musical styles, its satirical political message, and its social commentary. Its themes of love, betrayal, and an unfair world are timeless. The music veers from melodic and wistful to dissonant and angry.

It’s a biting satire, the tale of cold-blooded Macheath (played with a lithe, James Dean intensity by Gabriel Schneider) a thoroughly bad lot notorious for killings, rape, arson, burglary, and hold-ups. Here the devil has the best moves. No one can save the surly Mack the Knife, driven to vicious crime by poverty, not even his girl Polly (the superb Cynthia Micas). The rest of the youthful, exuberant cast – all untrustworthy deadbeats – battle amid the clang of cruel city life that is exemplified by designer Rebecca Ringst’s lustrous set. This huge, unforgiving black metal grid of steps and platforms suddenly moves and it’s the looming prison as much as a symbol of the rat-run of blind alleys that is the human psyche. Squint your eyes and there’s the suggestion too of the swastikas that would soon help blow the withering German soul apart, Brecht’s warnings unheeded. As for the costuming, although originally set in Victorian times (Jack the Ripper and all that) the vibrantly-coloured clothes designed by Dina Ehm suggest the 1920s, or even now.

The Threepenny Opera mixes elements of classical opera and jazz and made Weill’s name. It captivated Broadway and the world, and Weill’s only film score was for 1945’s Where Do We Go from Here? –  the strapline of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival.

In this Festival show the legendary Berliner Ensemble (founded by Brecht) brings a new production, under the direction of Barrie Kosky, that is both daring and inventive without diluting the magic of the original.