In this rendition of an all time favourite, in-yer-face piece of theatre, the King’s Head Theatre, London presents
Trainspotting is certainly something different to what I have seen so far at the Fringe.
The show takes place at Assembly’s Underground venue, which looks certainly run down from its exterior, though this immediately prepares the audience for what awaits them inside. As you enter, your ticket is taken and replaced with a glow-stick. Club music pumps out of the room and grows louder as you enter the space, thrown into a different world as the cast fully throw themselves into the music, occasionally falling on audience members who struggle to find a seat. Don't expect anything comfy - I was one of the last ones in, so I resorted to sitting on the stone floor.
The show entwines much of the key elements of the original play, though it has been stripped down to fill the hour-long slot. Fortunately, the show is still easy to follow. There is a great deal of audience interaction, with the actors often mounting members of the audience, which is comical in places and helps to draw the audience in further. However, I would highlight that there needs to be an element of awareness in how far this should be taken, as it can detract from the plot if lingered over too long. The set is fantastic and the lighting subtle enough to be convincing; there is a real dinginess that makes it gross from an aesthetic viewpoint; lighting is done in a 90’s style using strobe lighting, which adds to the plays believability. However, I have to say a lot of the action that takes place on the sofa can be missed due to where you’re sitting. A seating plan needs to be established to remove this frustration.
I have to commend the cast for taking on such a play, as it requires not only strength but also maturity, though I would argue that some roles were miscast purely on the basis that they look too young to be convincing. In addition to this, diction needs to be clearer; I understand that the play incorporates a certain Scottish vernacular but this shouldn't mean I should miss lines.
Trainspotting is certainly something different to what I have seen so far at the Fringe, and it has elements of originality that are commendable. If you fancy something gritty and gross and a little bit ‘out there’, then it's worth seeing.