The Independent London Newspaper



THEATRE: Trainspotting adaptation is in your face

Gavin Ross as Renton.Photo: Andreas Grieger

Gavin Ross as Renton in TrainspottingPhoto: ANDREAS GREIGER

Published: 12 February, 2016

TRAINSPOTTING at the King's Head Theatre

IN Your Face Theatre live up to their name with this 20th anniversary adaptation of one of the UK’s most iconic films.

However, it’s one thing being in the comfort zone of a DVD night in; it’s another thing being dragged up on stage for a pre-play rave; being part of a scene without you realising it (with insults thrown in) or having to pretend it’s Nutella (or whatever) heading your way from the shitty sheets scene.

“I didn’t come to be spat on,” whined an American to his friend, as they sauntered up Upper Street. But, both had just been 

on this bullet train of a play – a 70-minute journey, hurtling chaotically through late 1980s Edinburgh.

The seven-strong Scottish cast, have no problems with the Leith accents, as they switch roles and take the story (literally) around the audience.

Chris Dennis’s Begbie doesn’t have the pint-glass-in-yer-face ferocity of Robert Carlyle’s film portrayal. At best he’s a mouthy Jambo-hating Hibs futba’ hooligan in denim and docs.

And, just as the novel and film swap things around, so it happens here. Renton (not Spud), has the tug of war with his squelchy sheets at the breakfast table. In fact, there is no Spud.

Gavin Ross’s Renton is the stand out. In between shitting himself, he runs around with his cock for all to see, or sits in the crowd, finding a reluctant vein with his belt as a ligature.

At only 23 minutes shorter than the film, Harry Gibson’s adaptation is not quite as messy as the play’s drug den set but, like someone who’s just done speed, it’s a bit all over the place.

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