Choose life – the famous words penned originally in Irvine Welsh’s debut novel Trainspotting. Released in 1993, the book was adapted to the stage by Harry Gibson only one year later, starring Ewen Bremner in the lead role. It was 1996 when Trainspotting truly exploded in to the consciousness of the Scottish people (and the rest of the world). Danny Boyle’s adaptation of the book to film was a raging success for everyone involved, and is still held in high regard. It comes as no surprise that In Your Face Theatre adapted Harry Gibson’s original play into their own immersive show in 2013. Debuting in Edinburgh, of course. Since then the play has gone on to tour worldwide. But Trainspotting Live always returns to its home.
The show opens up with a rave. The immersive aspect of the show is on display from the get-go with ravers interacting with the crowd until the show truly begins. The venue’s layout is perfect for what the show needs. Four long rows of seats, two on either side of the stretched out room. A couch at one end, a bed on the other, with the performance itself in the middle. There are no bad seats, everyone gets a good view and you could not look away if you tried.
As for the show itself, adaptations can be tricky. Sticking too closely to the original property may leave the audience wondering why it was adapted in the first place. Stray too far away from it and the audience is enraged at the disrespect shown to it. Finding that perfect middle spot is tricky but Trainspotting Live seems to have no problems finding it.
The original gang are back; Renton, Tommy, Sick Boy and Begbie. But… no Spud.
It may seem like a disappointment to lose one of the most beloved characters, but while there is no physical manifestation of Spud in the show, the writers have cleverly meshed parts of his characteristics, and even some of his stories, and placed them in other characters. For example, Renton spoils the bed and Tommy goes for an interview on speed.
That is not the only re-jigging the writers have done. There are numerous parts of the script where the writers have taken stuff out and added something in. Fans will be disappointed to miss out on some famous scenes but what the writers have used as replacements allow for even more character development than both the book and film allowed for, an impressive feat in of itself.
As for the acting, taking on the role of such famous characters can be daunting, but every single actor involved slipped in to their roles comfortably, each putting in incredibly bold performances when things like nudity and raw emotion are required from them. Most notably Dean Gribble and Olivier Sublet, as Tommy and Begbie/Mother Superior respectively, steal the show whenever they step foot on stage.
Trainspotting Live is a risky production because with high expectations become the higher risk of failure. The actors bring their a-game. Along with the excellent writing, the rawness of the show equals that of the source material, proving that the voice of Trainspotting is still relevant today. Trainspotting Live is by far one of the best shows of the Fringe.