Trainspotting (2 stars)

This article is from 2015


A rough, visceral immersive underground production makes for a frustrating theatrical experience

In Your Face & King Head Theatre’s Trainspotting is a heady cocktail: part Irvine Welsh’s 1993 cult novel, part Danny Boyle’s 1996 iconic film adaptation, it takes place within a suitably atmospheric immersive underground setting.

The party has already started as the audience enters, armed only with a glow stick against the blaring dance music and strobe lighting. The performers play their in-the-round audience well, particularly during the many monologues, and take on a diverse variety of characters as an ensemble with pleasing comic results.

Much like the work that inspired it, Trainspotting openly flaunts its intention to shock and the gasps and shrieks of revulsion that greet its stagecraft are often well earned. But the shocks provide diminishing returns after the bold opening gambit.

For all its frenetic energy and gallus patter, a reliance on narration within key scenes limits the potential for emotional moments to unfold organically between the talented nine-strong ensemble cast. Climactic scenes revolving around Greg Esplin’s Tommy come close to finding an emotional path into the characters, but by this point more time has been spent on satisfyingly black-humoured vignettes than on setting up the emotional arc of the piece.

Assembly George Square Studios, 623 3030, until 31 Aug (not 18, 25), 6pm, £13--£15 (£11--£13).


  • 2 stars

In Your Face & King's Head Theatre 'I was shocked, and I wrote the f cking thing!' says Irvine Welsh. Trainspotting returns to Edinburgh after a critically acclaimed sell-out London season. This punchy, immersive production recaptures the passion and controversy of Irvine Welsh's cult generation-defining novel. For…