In your Face Theatre in conjunction with the King's Head Theatre return to the Fringe with their highly acclaimed and incredibly visceral adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s cult novel in a shocking, vile, and immensely enjoyable production that will leave you disgusted and awed in equal measure.
Truly a marvel to watch and a show that is highly recommendable for any fringe goer this festival.
Trainspotting follows the misadventures of Mark Renton, or Rentboy as he is dubbed by his pals, in the underground heroin culture of Edinburgh. As can be imagined the subject matter is fairly heavy going to say the least, and the show does not attempt in any way to edit out or tone down the darker, grittier, or just plain disgusting parts of Welsh’s book. Indeed the audience becomes intimately familiar with almost every form of human bodily fluid and can expect the actors to vomit, shoot up, or, in one case, have explosive diarrhoea mere centimetres away from where they are sitting. This is one of the amazing aspects of the show, it is immersive in the most visceral and brilliant way, as the audiences sit encompassing the actors who frequently interact with them, singling them out as if they’re characters in the story, and stealing their drinks or simply curling up and falling asleep in their laps. This commitment to immersive storytelling really brings the audience into the disgusting grungy world of our characters and brings the horrible reality of their situation into acute focus.
Commitment is indeed the name of the game as each and every member of the cast do not baulk from any of the more difficult or emotionally arresting scenes and are completely comfortable being emotionally vulnerable and raw, showing themselves at the lowest points one can possibly imagine. All of this contributed to the creation of an incredibly important sense of pathos that makes the audience feel a great degree of sympathy and emotional connection to these, at times, truly despicable people.
Technically the show is also a marvel, the lighting design is simply astounding, being able to create a definite sense of place for every scene, and switching from eye popping club scenes to intimate domestic scenarios at lighting speed. The set too is impressive, giving the impression of a beat up and broken down hovel in Leith covered in graffiti that perfectly complements the grimy urban mood the show runs on.
The productions only real problem is its over-reliance on the original text itself, as much of the show is told through narration using the book’s own prose. This largely works but during scenes of incredible emotional intensity the break in very non naturalistic descriptions of how another character feels about the situation breaks the shows precious immersion and takes you out of the emotions the show has worked so hard to submerge you in.
This aside, Trainspotting is truly a marvel to watch and a show that is highly recommendable for any fringe goer this festival.