Trainspotting Play review by Maryam Snape

Trainspotting, In Your Face Theatre Company’s take on Irvine Welsh’s iconic story of the highs and lows of heroin addiction in late 1980s Leith in Edinburgh.

When you hear the phrase ‘immersive’, it conjures up images of some kind of middle class art installation, or of those fancy showers at the spa that change colour and waft floral scents. Get that idea straight out of your head.

On entering the dark warehouse there is a high sense of anticipation in the air, a bit like walking into an early Sex Pistols gig but knowing the significance of what lies ahead. Everyone is eagerly looking around wondering if they are already a part of the proceedings. The music is banging 90s dance and lights are flashing, we’re handed a programme and some glow sticks, it seems we’ve arrived at the start of the night at a Hacienda rave.

It feels right to get doubles so we do, and hurry to our seats, I say seats in the loosest sense of the word, comfort levels are along the same lines of sitting at school assembly, but a very different type of event has already begun.

As we enter the space we are greeted with a group of ravers, dancing, gurning, and waving their glow sticks, they grab us and usher us to our seats. They carry on raving through songs such as Ebenezer Goode and I’m doing all I can to resist the primal urge to get up and start throwing some shapes.

The dancers are of course the players, and the play had already begun.

I’ll make the assumption that you’ve either seen the film or read the book, and of course own the soundtrack, because, let’s face it, Trainspotting is one of the all-time greats, any self-respecting student should have this book on their shelves, any clubber, anyone who has ever had a brush with narcotics of any kind, relates so keenly to the elation and tragedy of this story.

If you haven’t, go see the play, read the book, watch the film, listen to the soundtrack, today. I’ll give you seven days to smash the lot or we are going to have to have a few stern words.

The first half of the play takes you up to the giddy heights of club land, the ecstasy of drug taking and shows the friendship between a group of young revellers. It’s fun, you really feel part of it as fake excrement (at least, we hope it’s fake), is thrown amongst the crowd, audience members are grabbed, pulled onto the stage to dance, sat on and flirted with and more. Tits and dicks are out and shoved close to your face, it’s a real rave up. Everyone is grinning, leaning in eagerly and then bobbing out the way, enjoying the intimacy of the story. Overall I’d take your best orgasm, multiply the feeling by twenty, and you’re still f*ckin miles off the pace.

Suddenly, the story takes you plummeting down into the depths of despair as we witness domestic abuse, infant death, drug addiction and more. The fact that we all know this is coming does not make it any easier to digest at close proximity. It’s dark, really dark, faces are now sullen, the audience draws back, people clasp their hands together tightly as they look on in horror. That, eh, like say, seems a bit eh, f*cked up like man?

We stumbled out of the warehouse dazed and confused.

The cast in this adaptation are phenomenal, it’s hard to believe that they’re not on the drugs that they mimic, that those things aren’t real but mere props. Gavin Ross simply IS Renton, and it’s clear that Chris Dennis is the psychotic Begbie before he’s so much as opened his mouth, everyone is fantastic, believable and have the audience eating out of their hands from the off.

Get up off your sofas and get out there and experience this entertaining short burst of wonder that leaves you feeling like you’ve been both tickled in your belly and slapped in the face.

Article by Maryam Snape for Grapevine Birmingham.

There are still tickets available for the late night show tonight, and tomorrow Sat 2nd April.