Reviewed by: Michelle Eagleton
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
There’s no denying that Irvine Welsh’s cult novel Trainspotting made a huge mark on the Nineties generation. His book charting the antics of drug fueled youths in Scotland hit the shelves in 1993 with the Danny Boyle film coming three years later, making an overnight star of Ewan MacGregor. Trainspotting Live, currently on tour, takes the story to another level and whether you are fans or newbies to the tale of Renton, Tommy, Sick Boy and Begbie it is an immersive experience like no other.
The King’s Head Theatre and In Your Face Theatre are at the helm of this ground breaking production which has made Manchester’s former bus quarters, the Mayfield Depot, its home for their run in the city. The vast venue is the ideal location for the raw material on display with its exposed brickwork and abandoned warehouse feel adding to the atmosphere and giving the impression of you entering an underground rave from the start.
Convention goes out of the window as soon as you enter…Glo bands replace tickets and there’s no seat reservations, the choice is yours where you perch for the 75 minutes duration of the play (I’d avoid anywhere near the exposed loo as ‘the worst toilet in Scotland’ scene gets a little messy). If you are easily offended then this maybe isn’t the show for you…nakedness is a plenty, as is the swearing and sex. Don’t get me wrong though it’s all in context and is played out with such raw energy and realism from the five-strong cast that you are seriously swept away with them on an emotional rollercoaster that sees you witness their chemical highs and the subsequent sombre come downs.
Greg Esplin delivers a powerful performance as Tommy, Renton’s best mate who suffers the consequences of the drug scene. His descent from fun loving chappy to distraught junkie is mesmerising to watch.
The last time Trainspotting Live toured there was a cast of seven which meant there were two females sharing the roles on offer, with the cast cut down the weight falls on to the only woman in the line-up Lauren Downie to step up to the plate. Downie rises to the challenge and is outstanding in her plethora of roles each one carefully crafted, especially Renton’s Mum which she plays with such painstaking desperation.
It would be wrong not to mention all of the actors who make up the cast as they are a hugely talented bunch. Oliver Sublet (Begbie), Michael Lockerbie (Sick Boy) and, stand in for press night, Dean Gribble (Renton) put in stellar performances that are fizzing with realism.
Each performance of Trainspotting Live is unique as it very much relies on the reactions of the crowd who have turned out to see it. Part of the fun is watching people’s faces as they witness some of the shocking scenes on display and the humorous interaction between the actors and the audience is priceless. The show manages to balance the darkest of themes with lighter shades of humour and the sheer speed at which the productions runs echoes the film perfectly.
Don’t ‘choose something else’…choose Trainspotting Live before it heads off to its next station.
Runs at Mayfield Depot until 21st April
Tickets available via http://www.trainspottinglive.com/#buytickets