From the moment you enter the Station Underground venue (with warnings scrawled outside, music blasting and the main cast dancing feverishly), you know that this theatrical adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel is going to be truly immersive, that the boundaries between performers and punters will be blurred, and that damn fourth wall bloody smashed.
Co-directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher and Greg Esplin and written by Harry Gibson (drawing from the 1993 book more than the 1996 movie), this follows the exploits of Mark Renton (Gavin Ross) and his dodgy pals in 1980s Edinburgh, and shockingly explores the horrors of addiction while also daringly showing why we all could potentially get hooked on drugs (ie. they’re awesome – for a while).
Seasoned Fringe types were amused, amazed and somewhat appalled as sequences familiar from the film were played out right there in front of our faces, as audience members were dragged from their seats, threatened and snogged. There were the loose bowels, the speeded-up job interview, the waving of Begbie’s pool cue, overdoses, cold turkeying and ‘The Worst Toilet In Scotland’ (watch out), as all the while the heavily-accented and frequently naked Renton and others related the often despairing but grimly funny story in spirited running monologues or taunting Greek-Chorus-ish groups.
With music not associated with the film (The Cure, Pink Floyd, Supergrass and even a chanted Beatles bit) and one legendary track taken from it, this is powerful, painful, hilariously foul-mouthed and sometimes terrifying theatre with a brave cast (a few in several roles) all at their absolutely bloody brilliant best. Is it too early to claim that this is just about the pick of the Fringe? Maybe, but if it is then f***ing sue me.
Trainspotting was performed at Station Underground on Sunday February 19 and continues until Sunday, March 19