Hailed by its author Irvine Welsh as ‘the best way to experience Trainspotting’, In Yer Face Theatre’s version of the dark comedy-drama offers seventy-five emotive minutes of sparkling dialogue and immersive action, and is back following five previous sell-out runs at The Fringe. The story is led by a versatile team of five actors, and presents hard-hitting themes of heroin addiction, domestic violence and cot death, alongside lighter scenes like humorous job interviews and train journeys, which alternate comedic surprise alongside dramatic pathos.
The audience are fully present in every emotional turn, from the start they are ushered into the darkened theatre with glowing wristbands and flank either side of the stage in stepped seating, and the cast jump and dance, and interact amongst the crowd, making audience participation very much part of the show.
After a welcome like no other from the full cast dancing into action, the show opens with Renton’s famous ‘Choose Life’ speech segueing into the first scene, a whimsical amble with Renton, Tommy and Begbie trying to catch a squirrel in Edinburgh’s much loved public parkland The Meadows. This is an example of how the play intersperses aspects of the original book with those storylines found in the film to create a novel re-telling that engages the audience with a balance of lightheartedness and adult themes.
The viscerality of hard drug taking is clear with excreta and injections depicted throughout the play with enough gusto on the part of the actors to allow suspension of belief; shocking the audience. The ‘Worst Toilet in Scotland’ scene in particular, is not for the faint-hearted, along with Renton’s earlier rude awakening as a diarrhoeic houseguest.
With a sparse set featuring a dishevelled sofa and one end and a bed with no sheets on the other, the show comes alive with sound and music cues and the dynamism of the actors; running around the stage and the stepped seating, much to the audience’s surprise. A train scene takes place on the third row of seating; at other times audience members are briefly brought onto the stage, and character’s clothing is thrown around for moments of levity. This contrasts the catharsis of addiction and the unflinching unpalatism of its after effects, shown with such powerful emotional and physical representations. These were delivered convincingly and with conviction, for which the cast must be commended.
Currently on at the Fringe and touring the UK including PLATFORM Glasgow, Tuesday 27th September to Sunday 16th October