Trainspotting Live, 4 Stars

Trainspotting Live UK
UK Tour and 8 week London Run, 27th March to 20th May 2018
The Vaults, Waterloo
Further Info

“Staged in The Vaults in a tunnel opened exclusively for the production, Trainspotting Live captures the passion and the controversy of the famous novel, then globally successful film, and repackages it into a full-throttle show where the audience are literally part of the action, including the notorious ‘Worst Toilet in Scotland’ scene.

Against a dynamic soundscape of 80s dance music, the stories of a group of friends living through the Edinburgh heroin scene – Renton, Tommy, Sick Boy, Begbie and Alison – are brought to life with humour, poetry and provocatively graphic scenes It’s a ticket to ride you won’t soon forget. Choose life. For avid fans this is a must, and if you’ve never read the book or seen Danny Boyle’s iconic, generation-defining Trainspotting film: this is your ticket to a ride you won’t soon forget.”

Review by Richard Lambert, 4 Stars

Edgey, raw, in your face – everything you’d expect from a play (with music) based on the book and specifically the iconic film. Arriving at the Vaults going down the stone steps into a graffitti artist utopian passageway is the perfect introduction for the evening.

The house music is thumpingly loud but you’ll be offered ear plugs alongside your ticket. Yes, they’ll be needed! Don’t expect to sit and snooze for 75 minutes – the fear of the “action” coming your way will keep you alert! So funny – so long as you’re not on the receiving end!

The tunnel dimensions are challenging – long bathtub-shaped with a low ceiling require more lights than you’d expect but thankfully this production doesn’t call for an even wash. Clancy Flynn’s lighting design balances out the nightclub vibe with the grunge. Without a Set the piece relies on the lighting to zone you into a new location. This works effectively but there are a couple of moments when the cast are in the audience talking but they’re too dark to be seen.

The star of the tech is Tom Lishman‘s Sound Design. It’s rare for a soundscape to feel real but here it’s natural and works really well – even with ear plugs in.

The Costumes 100% believable. Even the tattoos complete the image. Are they real? They certainly look it! The programme doesn’t credit a Set or Designer and perhaps this goes some way to explaining why the bed and sofa at each end of the tunnel are a little low and out of sight for some of the audience. But with only 3 rows of seating on each side of the tunnel you’re never far from the action – and sometimes you might even wish you were further away with the unapologetic, boisterous, “say it as it is”, characters showing you their drug-fueled, “live for the moment” lifestyle. They lack self-awareness; unconcerned about acceptability. With a distinct lack of empathy and only minimal tenderness reserved for those who can score your next fix there are going to be consequences. The needles and drug injections effectively made me cringe.

You might not want to go with your parents or aunt, but do go with your mates and be a fly on the wall at this outrageous show – just watch out that the cast don’t get hold of you! Not for the prudes but everyone else should go see this show, it is quite an experience, in a good way!

Trainspotting Live. CREDIT Geraint Lewis

Trainspotting Live. CREDIT Geraint Lewis

Trainspotting Live. CREDIT Geraint Lewis

Trainspotting Live. CREDIT Geraint Lewis

Trainspotting Live. CREDIT Geraint Lewis

Trainspotting Live, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh, adapted by Harry Gibson, is directed by Kings Head Theatre artistic
director Adam Spreadbury-Maher in collaboration with Greg Esplin.
Harry Gibson’s original stage adaptation, written before it became the famous blockbuster film, was instantly successful and
controversial, and won The Sunday Times Award for Best New Play.
The King’s Head Theatre and In Your Face Theatre production is presented by James Seabright
Running time: 75 minutes – no interval
Warnings: Contains nudity, very strong language, heavy drug/needle u