Four of us were handed glowsticks and guided into the pumping rave that was to become the stage for Trainspotting Live; two who were familiar with the tale of Mark Renton and his band of misfits living through the 80’s Edinburgh heroin scene, and two who were entirely unprepared.
We were seated by an enthusiastic raver, fist-bumping to Darude’s Sandstorm, and when one of our party got up to go to the bathroom she was quickly told by said raver that it was of the utmost importance she sit back exactly where she was originally, or else. ‘Strange,’ we thought, seeing as there was no assigned seating, until 20 minutes into the performance we looked directly behind us and were greeted by the grotty, faeces-stained and infamous ‘Worst Toilet in London’.
This riotous performance adapted for the stage by Harry Gibson is not for the faint-hearted, nor for those who enjoy wearing white clothing. From beginning to end you will literally be gripping onto the edge of your seat, praying that you won’t be chosen next for one of the many audience-interactions heavily featured throughout the show.
Set in the (usually) abandoned Station Underground on Hindley Street, prepare to find yourself wandering into what one might call a staged ‘junkie den’ which, needless to say, is damn near believable at first sight. Messy graff paints the patchy walls of a darkened room lit merely by neon piping that lines the ceiling. To the side, a bar fittingly prepared by the guys from Fat Controller stands offering beer, wine and base spirits before and after the show.
Trainspotting Live sent us on a winding rollercoaster of emotion, laughing in hysterics at one point and emotionally tearing up the next. Gavin Ross does an outrageously good performance bringing leading character Renton to life, making sure every word he pushes out of his mouth is thickly accented with concentrated emotion. Calum Barbour plays the hustler Mother Superior, running around stage in an enviable get-up of boxers and a dressing gown, while Michael Lockerbie plays Sick Boy with such meaningful emotion you wind up feeling heartbroken for the heroin-addicted boy. Much of the same sympathy is felt for Erin Marshall as Alison, and Chris Dennis brings such aggression to the stage as Begbie we were genuinely surprised to find he was a placid human being after the show.
The grittiness of it all served only to highlight how raw and gruesome the 80’s heroin scene was, and the element of interactivity allowed the audience to truly get a sense of this. For those unfamiliar with the novel or film, the show could have been a tad confronting and the storyline a little confusing, yet it was the passion in the acting that had absolutely everyone in the room immersed (maybe the nudity played a teenie part as well). And, though we were seated infant of the notorious toilet, one of the characters was kind enough to push our unsuspecting coats out of the way seconds before the scene. Let this serve as a comfort for those of you who are feeling uneasy about the illustrious amounts of confronting audience interaction; while the cast may seem to take joy out of the nervousness of audience members, they’ll never let you actually drown in shit.
Oh, and can we all take a moment to appreciate the soundtrack to Trainspotting Live? Someone, please tell us if that’s a Spotify playlist because we need more of those tracks in our lives.
We rate: ★★★★★ 5/5 stars