We’ve all heard of Irvin Welsh’s novel Trainspotting, later adapted into a film, which delves into the world of drug addiction and doesn’t shy away from both infant death and full-frontal nudity. So with this in mind, it was always going to be a struggle condensing the novel’s hard hitting discourse into a seventy-five minute stage piece. However, In Yer Face Theatre and London’s King’s Head Theatre’s adaption, succeeded in stripping the narrative down to the essentials, incorporating iconic scenes and providing the audience with a succinct, awe-inducing piece.
The production took place down in the basement of the Assembly George Square Studios. On entering what appeared to be a disused car park, my ticket was replaced with a glow stick and I was hurled into a 90’s style rave, with strobe lights darting across graffiti daubed walls and the party in full-swing. Eventually, the audience were encouraged to huddle together on makeshift planks along the outskirts and we watched on as the ecstasy pumped characters danced away. It was the perfect high-energy start needed to propel the audience into the emotional whirlwind narrative.
The fourth wall was shattered with In Yer Face staying true to its name, as directors Greg Esplin and Adam Spreadbury-Maher, ensured that no audience member escaped without a good splash of fake faeces and blood. The realistic nature of the props enhanced the shocking nature of the narrative as we watched character after character fall to the hands of heroin addiction. The depressive action was however alleviated, through ingenious and fluid audience interaction, as actors interacted with the audience, including a memorable Where’s Wally pun directed at a red-striped jumper-adorned spectator.
The entire cast were superb with Gavin Ross’ portrayal of Renton standing out as the perfect embodiment of an addict; his agitated nervous demeanour and pained expression was raw and believable as we watched him go cold turkey . Applause must also be given to Greg Esplin who played the adored character of Spud, a naïve youth with a habit of attending job interviews on speed. It was this scene that exemplified Esplin’s acting skills as we watched sweat dripped off his rapidly contorting face, which left audience members in stitches.
This production is definitely not for the prude or needle-phobic. If you loved the film or book, this stage adoption will definitely surpass your expectation. Expect a memorable performance that will stand out from all other performances at the Fringe.