Trainspotting Live

How do you top Trainspotting, the defining film of the ‘90s? You top it by making it live. By forcing you to see, feel and smell heroin addicts in the urban poverty and squalor of Edinburgh. Is there any good reason for anyone to see this play? Who needs reasons when you have heroin?

It shocks, offends and brutalises the hell out of you

It’s been exactly 30 years since we were told to choose life by Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. The film, directed by Danny Boyle, came out three years later and plunged Ewan MacGregor into stardom. In its tenth anniversary run at the Fringe circuit, Trainspotting Live is as ballsy as ever. It is still the most uncompromising and controversial show you are likely to see anywhere. It captures the spirit of the original story to the teeth and repackages it into an immersive production that is just as relevant in today’s society.

Even though the warnings are clearly spelled out for you: full nudity, offensive language, strobe lighting, interactive behaviour, triggering themes, nothing will prepare you for the shock of entering the venue. You walk straight into an underground rave with all the characters charging around seemingly spaced out of their heads. Renton goes into his iconic monologue while the other actors are barging up and down the isles. They might just as well be flirting with you, taking the piss out of you, wrapping their arms round you, shouting abuse at your face, snatching your drink or staggering drunkenly on you.

There were genuine screaks of horror each time some form of bodily discharge was chucked at us – and it happened a lot. But come on, this is Trainspotting, what did you expect? Best not come to the show dressed in your best outfit, that’s for sure. The word immersive gets thrown around a lot when describing theatre productions. Trainspotting, however, is fully immersive – you get dragged into its ugly abyss whether you like it or not. Just like it should be when creating this cult underworld. The tone remains suitably offensive, violent and dangerous throughout the supercharged and adrenaline filled 75-minute performance.

All your favourite characters and memorable scenes are there, and the energy of the cast is off the scale. The two that stand out the most are Andrew Barrett as Renton, playing painfully vividly his numerous cold turkeys, including the notorious shitstorm toilet scene, and Oliver Sublet as Begpie, with a striking physical presence, and having his comical mental meltdowns every two minutes. Another striking scene with darker undertones is the death of Sick Boy’s and Allison’s baby daughter.

This show is definitely not for everyone. It shocks, offends and brutalises the hell out of you, but if you are a fan of Trainspotting, it will take you down on a glorious memory lane. Irvine Welch himself says: ‘This is the best way to experience Trainspotting. I was shocked, and I wrote the f*cking thing!' I wouldn’t dare to disagree with him. I choose life.

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Reviews by Johanna Makelainen

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

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The Blurb

Acclaimed immersive adaptation of Irvine Welsh's classic, staged in celebration of the book's 30th anniversary in a unique, bespoke venue. The audience are literally part of the action, including the notorious 'worst toilet in Scotland' scene. Back after six sold-out Fringe seasons, this is a ticket to ride you won't soon forget, so book early! Choose life. 'A big fat hit!' (NME). 'Best way to experience Trainspotting. I was shocked, and I wrote the f*cking thing!' (Irvine Welsh). 'Must see for fans of the novel and film' **** (Telegraph). 'Will get you laughing and screaming' (Time Out). www.trainspottinglive.com

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