Irvine Walsh is one of my favourite authors, and I have vivid memories of seeing Trainspotting when I was far too young. Sneakingly catching a late night showing on Channel Four, and it’s not just me. Trainspotting has become so iconic, so infamous, that is is almost part of the national conscious. So you’d think that a production in 2016 might be impossible to do without it seeming like a mimicry. Well, when the ticket you are handed is a glow stick you get the feeling you might be in for something a little more unusual. Not only does newly opened production at The Vaults prove to be as fresh as it was when it was first discovered, but it will leave you wanting to coming back for more.
This production feels new and whilst also being pleasantly familiar. The nostalgia is present, but so is the sense of edge-of-your-seat excitement. Not least because you are worried what might be hurled at you next, quite literally, in this in your heightened theatre performance.
Speaking of which, this performance manages to be shocking without feeling like it’s trying too hard, there is a sense of fun about it rather than it being a full on attack on the audience. It’s heart-racing, adrenaline-producing, stomach-clenching stuff, which is ramped up by the great use of sound and lighting. The Trainspotting movie has one of the most well-remembered soundtracks in British cinema, and likewise the music is used well here to add a sense of immediacy as the show careers onwards. My only slight criticism is that the smoke effects could have done with being dialled back a little at the start, as I struggled to see the actors through it for the first few scenes.
The Vault’s dingy decor, with the ever audible rumble of tube trains, add to the feeling of grimy, claustrophobic, unpredictable life of the drug addicts in this piece. The unusual stage setting added to the sense of unpredictability, with audience members seemingly sitting anywhere they can be crammed into. And don’t think you are safe from being part of the action of you choose a traditional theatre seat either! Unfortunately our seats, which were side on facing a wall at one end, meant it was very difficult to see and I felt like I missed a lot of the action. I would recommend getting there early, grabbing a can of beer securing a good position.
This isn’t despairing, mellow dramatic stuff as you may expect. There are more laugh loud moments in this then there has been in most comedies I have seen this year, and it’s ability to play on your emotions, from anxiety to laughter, is what makes this performance a real winner.
This show is masculine, aggressive and whilst still being heartfelt but it’s certainly not for everyone. If you are easily offended it’s fair to say this one isn’t for you. I think it is best summed up in this quote by Irvine Walsh after seeing the show:
“I was shocked and I wrote the fucking thing!”
I did my first vlog this day as I went to check out the show: