Trainspotting is located in the Assembly Underground; the set resembles a derelict warehouse with graffiti covering the walls. Upon entrance, each audience member is given a glow stick and you are placed on the floor, a metre away from the main cast engaging in the throws of a very realistic rave.
The energy of the cast is astounding as they re-enact Irvine Welsh’s novel in an hour of nudity, hedonism and despair. What is most notable about this performance is the level of interaction the cast has with the audience. We are pushed to feel immersed within the lives of Renton and co. as they tell the audience their story. Cast members shove you, sit on you and even spit on you, all whilst remarkably remaining in character. One criticism of the performance would be the awareness of the shock factor the cast creates as they press the face of a young student up against their crotch, or when they scream in the ear of an unwitting tourist. This does, however, submerge the audience into the crude mind-set of the entire show.
The mood of the first half hour of the performance is very much comedic, rife with sex, nudity and the highs of drug abuse. The actors are very convincing in portraying drug use on stage to the point where the audience could question whether they are in fact under the influence. Yet the light-heartedness between the characters also enables the audience to develop a sense of attachment to these troubled and charismatic individuals. Erin Marshall’s portrayal of Alison is particularly endearing, creating an aura of subtle innocence, which surrounds the cast. This lends itself to her tragic loss in the second half hour being particularly powerful and gripping. As for the other key performers, Gavin Ross is an extremely convincing Renton. His stage presence is undeniable and he has really made the role his own.
The second half hour of the performance takes a darker turn where the grip of addiction is really felt. Greg Esplin’s performance as Tommy is particularly poignant as we see the degradation of his innocence throughout the act. The dark humour presented in the first half of the play very quickly descends into sheer desolation as the characters lose control. The redemption of Renton, however, is a glimmer of hope within the performance.
The most impressive part of the actors’ performance is that they repeat it 3 times each night with stunning quality each time.
Assembly Underground, 27-29th August
Tickets available at: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/trainspotting
16+ Age Restriction
Photo credit: © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society