Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Trainspotting Live at Pleasance at EICC
When one enters the theatre where Trainspotting Live is performed, it feels like entering a rave: lights flash in various colours and loud music pulses through the room. The cast members beat their fists in the air and run along the stage dancing. The “stage” is a long space on the floor in the centre of the room where the bulk of the performance takes place. Audience members are given glow sticks and seated on bleacher-like benches on either side. Periodically, the performers will come among the audience, speaking directly to them or sitting next to them. The overall effect is complete immersion in this remarkable adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s classic novel Trainspotting, famously brought to the screen by Danny Boyle.
The production is the work of King’s Head and In Your Face, presented by James Seabright. This is the sixth Fringe season that Trainspotting Live has taken the Edinburgh stage, having sold out completely the previous five years – and after attending, there is no wonder why. The performances given as Mark Renton, Sick Boy, Tommy, Begbie and Allison are incredibly raw and real. The actors give themselves entirely to the roles – so much so that, as audience members traipse in, Begbie shouts at them to move and gets in their face.
As the show continues, the immersive element only becomes stronger. After the scene in which one character soils himself in bed, he flails the stained sheets around, bringing them dangerously close to audience members. Similarly, after the reenactment of the infamous “Worst toilet in Scotland” scene, audience members must dodge the contents of the stage toilet that Renton flings out at them. The result of these interactions between cast members and audience is that the original grime of the Trainspotting film is only heightened. Not only do viewers witness the seedy, grunge-filled world of Edinburgh’s heroin scene, but they are themselves forced to be a part of it.
Ultimately this means it is impossible to escape the disgusting elements of the characters’ addiction. At the beginning, when music is playing and everyone is dancing, it all seems like fun and games. Their world is exciting, as they speak to the thrill of the high. And yet, in between the darkly humorous scenes and witty banter, the experience displays the characters’ descent into something far more dangerous than they can initially comprehend. With incredibly innovative stage design and extremely sincere performances by the actors, Trainspotting Live presents a cutting social commentary on class, privilege and addiction.
Trainspotting Live is at Pleasance at EICC from 27th August until 28th August 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: