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‘Impassioned performances’ in Trainspotting…

Gavin Ross as Renton in Trainspottting. Photo credit Chris Tribble
Gavin Ross as Renton in Trainspottting. Photo credit Chris Tribble

It’s hard to think of another book as richly imbued with its own distinctive voice as that of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. First published in 1993, and shortly thereafter long listed for the Booker Prize, its acclaim, impact and stir was immediate. When Danny Boyle’s acclaimed film adaptation was unleashed on audiences in 1996, the work not only became a global phenomenon, but an iconic piece of 90s British culture. It remains a critic’s favourite and a beloved cult classic, with even the esteemed British Film Institute going as far as to name it as the 10th greatest British film of all time.

Fresh from a sold-out, and much vaunted, run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this stage version has now settled in the heart of North London’s King’s Head Theatre. Created by In Your Face Theatre and adapted by Harry Gibson, this is a deliberately provocative realisation of the book/film’s most confrontational aspects. It is one that sets to shock, but also to provoke plenty of thought.

The word that springs repeatedly to mind whilst engaging with this presentation is ‘visceral’, as it sets about to stun with a relentless jolt to the senses. Propelled by a filthy vernacular, and an attitude full of spittle and bile, this ragbag troupe of misfits and delinquents occupy the grubbily squalid parts of Scotland’s urban sprawl; as Renton (Gavin Ross), Begbie (Chris Dennis), Alison (Erin Marshall), June (Jessica Innes) et al fill this landscape with friction and intoxication.

There is nothing glamorous about this world though, and for all of the novelty touches about this production, it is when ‘Comfortably Numb’ plays out during Tommy’s (Greg Esplin) darkest descent into the crazed fog of heroine usage that the heaviest emotional tug is pulled. The audience then fully recognises the vile wiles of drug addiction and the apparent helplessness of its victims.

Inventive staging and impassioned performances lift this work into one hell of an experience. News of a film sequel being in the works with the original cast has set tongues wagging, but whilst the fruits of that labour will still be a long way off, you could do far, far worse than attend this irreverent, yet affectionate, regale of Welsh’s finest hour. This is riveting theatre that truly lives up to the company’s ‘In Your Face’ moniker.

4 stars

Review by Greg Wetherall

After a 5 star critically acclaimed and sell out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe 2015 and the King’s Head Theatre in London, In Your Face Theatre and the King’s Head Theatre’s production of Irvine Welsh’s cult, generation-defining novel Trainspotting is back before it tours the UK! This punchy, 75 minute production recaptures the passion and the controversy of the famous novel, then globally successful film, and repackages it into an immersive production – the audience are literally part of the show, including the notorious “Worst Toilet in Scotland” scene.

Both Edinburgh and London critics have praised the production highly, describing it as “utterly amazing” (London Theatre 1), “intense, funny, and moving” (Box Dust) and “bold, unique, and like nothing else you’ll see on stage” (Entertainment Focus). For avid fans this is a must, and if you’ve never read the book or seen the film: this is your ticket to a ride you won’t soon forget.

Contains: Nudity, very strong language, scenes of a violent and sexual nature, simulated drug and needle use, strobe lighting, materials that can mark clothing, apparent claustraphobia

Strictly Ages 16+ Only
2nd to 27th February 2016


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