Reviewed – 29th March 2018
“audience members are climbed over, shouted at and showered with the contents of ‘The Worst Toilet in Scotland’”
Opiate abuse has crept back onto the media agenda of late as drug overdoses claim to be the leading cause of death for Americans under fifty. Overdoses from Fentanyl, a prescription painkiller, have soared over the last five years, with some areas being so badly affected it’s been called an epidemic. A similar social environment of high unemployment and easily accessible opiates were present in Edinburgh thirty years ago, most frankly portrayed in Irvine Welsh’s breakout novel Trainspotting.
Originally adapted for the stage by Harry Gibson only a year after the publication of the novel, Trainspotting Live actually predates the much loved Danny Boyle film. All the most infamous scenes are here in this immersive production by In Your Face Theatre, but presented using the multiple narrative style of the book, rather than a necessarily linear plot, to open a window to the drug addicted, despairing youth of 1980s Edinburgh.
A glowstick gains you entry to the appropriately atmospheric venue under the arches of Waterloo train station where Sick Boy, Begbie, Renton and the rest of the cast are dancing to rave classics and engaging with the audience. This is only the beginning, as audience members are climbed over, shouted at and showered with the contents of ‘The Worst Toilet in Scotland’ all to raucous laughter. It’s shocking stuff. But as with Welsh’s original book and the film, it’s meant to make you squirm. As the hilarity slowly gives way to degeneracy, the sense of loneliness and isolation is stark and it can be seen as both the cause and effect of the bleak circumstances the characters face.
The seven strong cast is made up of veterans having honed their roles since 2013 and some more recent additions; the stand out of which is Frankie O’Connor as the charmingly disaffected Renton. It’s an intense production, requiring the highest energy levels and stamina from the cast who are all utterly absorbing to watch.
Whilst this is a completely immersive production and best enjoyed as such, you can watch without fear of full frontal nudity directly in your face if you opt for allocated seating, although this privilege does come at a premium to the general admission seats.
Sure, nudity and audience participation are easy ways to get a laugh, but it’s the shock factor that really drives home the lengths to which addiction can drive a person. Trainspotting Live was one of the most exciting and engaging pieces of theatre I have seen this year so far. A spectacle not to be missed.
Reviewed by Amber Woodward
Photography by Geraint Lewis
The Vaults until 3rd June