The Vaults is a great location for Trainspotting, as the trains pass over the tunnel. The entire cast violently dances to a rave as the audience enters, with the same energy that the movie is known for and it stays on that level throughout – despite them performing 2-3 shows a night. That vigorous energy is completely mesmerising and sets the mood for the high-intensity show that is coming.
Trainspotting Live at the Vaults is the stage adaptation of the classic 1993 novel by Irvine Welsh, adapted by Harry Gibson. For a story that has been performed so many times, it is hard to keep it original and keep surprising the audience, but this version by In Your Face Theatre, King’s Head Theatre and Seabright Productions managed just that. Having previously performed this show in Edinburgh and London, as well as a UK tour, this Scottish legend continues to be a must-see show that takes the audience’s breath away.
The classic story of a group of drug users in the 1980s, in a deprived area of Edinburgh, touches on a lot of harsh subjects – mostly on how the drugs have become the most important aspect of their lives. It’s a tough theme, but is filled with banter and heartfelt moments.
Some of the story line can become confusing, as important events occur which don’t have clear back stories to explain them.Add to that the strong accents, and a lot of things could be missed, but the actors are wonderful throughout. In particular, Frankie O’Connor’s portrayal of Mark Renton is incredible.
The immersive aspect of the show is underwhelming, as the audience sits down throughout and have no influence on the storyline, which is essential when defining immersive theatre. The set up is a traverse stage, which creates an intimate feeling and allows the audience to follow the show intensely, but that’s it. The infamous ‘Worst Public Toilet in Scotland’ scene was elaborately included in this performance, and was all the more real as you sat in the middle of it, instead of from afar.
The noticeable physical distance between the junkies and the sober characters was just one of the layout choices which allowed a powerful metaphor. Even when a character became sober, they would immediately be on the other side of the stage, emphasising the alienation of the main characters from the rest of society.
Unfortunately for those not familiar with the dialect of Scotland, a lot of the dialogue can be missed due to the very heavy Scottish accents, and makes having a general idea of the story before watching imperative to understanding.
Trainspotting Live is a fantastic production. Touch up on your Scottish accent first and be prepared for obscenity, but most importantly be prepared to be wowed by talent.
Trainspotting Live plays until June 3rd, at The Vaults.