Note: This review is from the 2022 Fringe

Trainspotting is a cultural milestone of the 90s with Irvine Welsh’s novel and subsequent film adaptation forever changing the Scottish landscape of fiction. Welsh’s sequel, Porno, takes place fifteen years after the end of Trainspotting and catches up with older, but certainly no wiser, protagonists Renton, Begbie, Sick Boy and Spud.

Fifteen years ago Renton ran off with the proceeds of a big score that he and the others had pulled off, before fleeing to Amsterdam. Now Renton’s mother is dying in hospital and Renton returns to Leith to see his mother and make amends to perennial schemer, Sick Boy – now in charge of a run down pub in Leith – and failure at life, Spud. Unfortunately for Renton, the psychopath Begbie has just been released from prison for manslaughter and is out for revenge.

The action is fragmented into small scenes as the actions flit between the main characters who are often apart, and you never get to see all of the characters together in a scene, which is a shame. But, the scenes flow together well and it’s never confusing following the different narrative threads. However, it is potentially difficult for newcomers to the Trainspotting universe to piece together the past from the passing references by the cast.

With this being Welsh, there is no shortage of swearing and violence on display, however, drug use, while still shocking, is not the main plot of Porno. Instead, Sick Boy with old mate/hated enemy, Renton, is trying to get his next score by making a pornographic film. The infamous characters are back and are played perfectly by the cast, including new character Elizabeth who will do anything to antagonise her policeman father.

Irvine Welsh’s Porno is a funny, sweary return for the Trainspotting characters who, like Edinburgh, have moved on from the heroin that was tearing the city apart. Old tensions give rise to new conflicts as the protagonists try to find their next big score.