Monday, 8 February 2016

    Review | Trainspotting, Kings Head Theatre ★★★★★

    How I'll get through this review without swearing is completely beyond me, but I'm going to give it a go.


    Trainspotting, by Irvine Welsh, is my favourite book. It borders on obsession; I think I first read it when I was around 14/15, and I just fell in love with the vulgarity and aggression. Thankfully, in my life, I've never known someone to have a destructive substance addiction, but what resonated with me was the anger and friendships of the small town atmosphere. Then I saw the film and my mind erupted even more so; well acted, gut-wrenching and hilarious. It deserved all of the accolades going.
    I went to see Irvine Welsh talk at a public reading when he released 'Skagboys', and he was so eloquent, and clever, about his topics and writing, that I then proceeded to read the entire Irvine Welsh back catalogue.
    Trainspotting will always be my favourite, and hold a special place in my heart and so I'm very, very protective of it.
    Kings Head, and In Your Face Theatre, had a lot to live up to.


    For those of you foolish enough to not be familiar with the text, a brief synopsis:
    The residents of Leith are all suffering from various addictions. For some it's violence, for others it's sex, but for Mark Renton, and friends, it's heroin. Trainspotting follows the highs (pun intended) and revolting lows of their plight.
    In Your Face Theatre, does exactly what it says on the tin. They create theatre designed to shock, and Trainspotting has pretty great material to do that with.
    If you're offended by nudity, don't go. If you're offended by swearing, don't go. If you quake at audience participation, try not to make eye contact with anyone, and maybe don't go. 
    I was impressed by basically all the performances, from ensemble to leads, everyone was strong and evoked the 90s atmosphere.
    Gavin Ross, playing Mark Renton, was impeccable. The sheer energy he must use up, even within the first scene, is pretty insane, and yet he powers through and offers up a heart-wrenching and honest performance. His posture even reflects his demise, as his slight hunchback increases with vulnerability.
    My personal standout was Greg Esplin as Tommy. The multi-talented Esplin (also director of the production, and artistic director of the theatre company) brought so much to Tommy, whose arc is perhaps the most dramatic. His demeanor was very natural, which was such a brilliant juxtaposition to the full-throttle-ness of the rest of the players; it made you really care, and relate to his characters plight.
    Also, Chris Dennis's Begbie deserves an honorable mention. The love and affection towards Robert Carlisle, means people remember this character with rose tinted glasses... HE. IS. NOT. LIKEABLE. He is not a likeable character at all. Dennis does a good job of hammering that home to the audience, through making himself as big on the stage as possible - in voice and in stance.

    This piece of theatre is designed to shock, stun, and invite conversation from the audience...it definitely succeeds on all fronts.
    I can't urge you enough to go. Sitting through this experience, it's really evident how much passion, love and hardwork is behind it. 
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