The doors to the show open and my senses are overwhelmed with thick smoke spewing from fog machines, pulsing neon lights and deafening sounds of EDM, like I’ve just stepped back in time to a nightclub in the 1980s. Stepping in further to be welcomed by a band of drunken, high, Scottish ravers as one comes stumbling over to me with open arms, slumping his arm over my shoulder as he drags me along to my seat. Any doubts I was having as to how anyone could pull off a live*and* immersive performance of Trainspotting were stomped out in seconds as I take a seat right in the action.
The classic novel, written and published by Irvine Welsh nearly 30 years ago, that spawned an iconic award-winning movie and an even more phenomenal theatre adaptation. Harry Gibson’s theatrical take on Trainspotting Live is touring once more as they’re shooting up this week at the stunning Corby Cube. The adaptation is directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher and Greg Esplin, who do an outstanding job at meeting the already high expectations set by Welsh and Gibson.
Trainspotting follows Marc Renton (Andrew Barrett) and his mates, Sick Boy (Michel Lockerbie), Tommy (Greg Esplin) and Begbie (Olivier Sublet) through the notorious heroin scene of the 80s in Edinburgh. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, humour, tragedy, anxiety and pure disgust, but one thing for sure is that this is no ride for the innocent-minded or faint of heart.
One of the things I love most about Trainspotting Live is its perfectly balanced contrast between sticking by its original material yet spicing it up with its own vision. Adding some variation to scenes from the novel while embracing the live format to create a performance that maintains the heart and soul of Trainspotting. But with a refreshing new take that feels like you’re experiencing the story for the first time again, only this time you’re in it. But the highlight of it is seeing the famous moments recreated, like Renton’s art of cocking up an interview just the right amount. Though it goes without saying that the revolting worst toilet in Scotland is disgustingly well done, leaving everyone in the room to gag and shield their eyes. The only flaw I can imagine though is the lack of Spud in the adaptation, but it does it’s best to make up for his disappearance.
Most importantly, I can say without a doubt that the entire cast and performance has been the best I’ve ever seen in theatre. It shows through every single member of the cast that they embody their roles down to every minute detail. There’s no need for changes in scenery as the story is clearly paced with impeccable acting and narration mixed with amazing lighting. Andrew Barrett is undoubtedly made for the role of Renton as he battles not only his addiction but his own friends’ habit of dragging him back down. His acting as Renton leads the show with all the charm you can imagine from a drug addicted Scot covered in his own mess from a night out.
Laura Downie also leaves an unforgettable impression playing both June and Allison, arguably one of my favourites out the whole lot. She manages to give me the biggest laughs as she raves on the mainstage yet later on delivers the most depressing point of the show. Downie’s ability to portray such highs and lows is as amazing as it is impressive.
Similarly to Olivier Sublet who encapsulates the psychotic maniac and drug hating Begbie as well as the dope dealing Mother Superior. The air is thick with tension and nerves when Sublet’s Begbie takes to the stage, knowing any odd look or glance could set him off in a violent rampage. It’s as exciting as it terrifying to see him perform. It’s only more striking after seeing him able to play a character that is the polar opposite yet with the same excellence.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Trainspotting Live is a must see for anyone over 16 that can stomach some crude moments because it is an experience like no other. Book tickets now here in Corby until 10 Sept and choose life.