Theatre can have a tendency to be quite removed in that the audience sits in front of a stage and has to be drawn in by the performance alone. Trainspotting at the King’s Head Theatre took this idea, rolled it up and smoked it away, immersing the audience and interacting with them throughout.
I have a small, tiny confession to make: I’ve never seen or read Trainspotting despite owning both the book and film. I’m a big fan of Filth and knew what this was roughly about, but in retrospect I went in totally blank which actually enhanced my enjoyment of the story.
We walked in and were immediately dropped into the action as we were lead to our seats by the actors, only to be laid upon by Tommy who very quickly grew intimate with my leg. It was certainly a new theatre experience.
Harry Gibson’s adaptation takes out the core elements of Trainspotting, the rough, touching moments and the humour, and throws it into a whirlwind of a show that has excellent pace and timing from the first to the last moment. It’s how I’d imagine a hit to be (not that I’d know…), going from the high moments of comedy to low and gloomier moments.I loved the gritty set – from the graffiti stained walls and the glow sticks we were given, to the toilet (though that sight isn’t for the faint hearted!). I also love a Scottish accent and boy was that what you got (yes, I know it’s obvious but I still love to hear it).
The cast effortlessly moved between characters and situations, wandering in and around the audience, drawing everyone in. Each cast member – Chris Dennis (Begbie), Calum Douglas Barbour (ensemble), Greg Esplin (Tommy), Jessica Innes (June/Ensemble), Erin Marshall (Alison/Ensemble), Gavin Ross (Renton) and Rory Speed (Sickboy) – put so much into their performance and committed strongly to their characters.
Trainspotting was a gritty and raw show; never have I enjoyed being thrown up on and having stained bed sheets chucked at me as much as I did whilst watching this. I came out with this amped adrenaline rush and the only thing I’m sad about is that the show’s run is for a limited season. I’m going back before it ends, will I see you there?
Trainspotting is on at the King’s Head Theatre until Feb 27th