Current Issue #488

Choose Life, Choose Theatre, Choose Trainspotting

Choose Life, Choose Theatre, Choose Trainspotting

With Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh calling the In Your Face Theatre Company production the best way to experience Trainspotting; this will be one of this year’s most talked about Fringe shows.

After first thrilling and shocking readers and film fans in equal measure some 20 years ago, Trainspotting is experiencing a revival with the upcoming film sequel T2 Trainspotting and the theatre version of Irvine Welsh’s infamous book.

A collaboration between Edinburgh’s In Your face Theatre and London’s King’s Head, Trainspotting is co-directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher, an Australian expat who, for the last 11 years, has been directing opera and fringe theatre in London. He is the artistic director of King’s Head, a pub theatre in London which promotes edgy productions, including Australian work such as Strangers In Between and Holding the Man. This is Trainspotting for the new generation.


“This production is an immersive production, a non-traditional production, there is no space between the action and the audience,” Spreadbury-Maher says from London.

“I’ve noticed that a large number of people who are coming along to see it are young and they don’t know anything about Trainspotting, but it’s been packaged in a way that they’ve heard about it through social media or by word of mouth, and they’ve just thought, ‘I’ll go along because it sounds really exciting’.

“I think this production is great because it marries so many genres: literature, film and music. It just takes a nice snapshot of a certain time in the world, time that actually, with the inauguration of Trump, the conservative government in Australia and the epidemic of ice in Australia, just feels timely to be bringing it down under.”

For Adelaide, the production (about urban isolation and heroin addicts in late ‘80s Edinburgh) will be staged in an abandoned CBD area, so it will be more like entering an illegal rave from the ‘80s or ‘90s than a traditional theatre show.

“It’s got that dangerous, like, we’ve just broken in and are having a rave kind of vibe to it,” he says.


With the sequel hitting cinemas, Spreadbury-Maher says they have thought about producing a theatre sequel.

“There’s definitely a desire to look at that and also to look at other Welsh work,” he says. “It really is an ensemble mentality [the collaboration with In Your Face], so it’s been discussed between me and the actors and Greg [Esplin] of what will be the next project.”

Has Welsh given the troupe his blessing to do more of his work?

“We haven’t specifically spoken to Irvine about other work, but he has been incredibly supportive. He’s come along to see the show a few times, he’s very vocal on Twitter, to the point where he’s saying things like, ‘The best way for you to experience Trainspotting is to go and see this production’, which is so humbling to have that kind of praise from the author.”

As artistic director of the King’s Head, Spreadbury-Maher pushes and directs an eclectic program.

“London is saturated with theatres, as an artistic director I always ask myself, ‘Why are we doing this?’ And it always comes back to this: because no-one else is doing it.”

Station Underground
Friday, February 17 to Sunday, March 19

Photography: Andreas Grieger

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