Skip to main content

Trainspotting

Out of the Blue, Edinburgh
Four stars
It's like stepping into a time-warp even before the young and tellingly named In Your Face Theatre company's revival of Harry Gibson's stage version of Irvine Welsh's seminal debut novel properly begins. The early 1990s techno that plays prior to the show in a venue dark and expansive enough to fool the audience into thinking they've stumbled on some dilapidated warehouse in the middle of nowhere has something to do with it. So too do the studiedly observed re-creations of the poster images from Danny Boyle's 1996 film version on the programme of Christopher Rybak and Craig Boyle's promenade production, which arrives just a few months shy of the play's twentieth anniversary.

There, however, similarities end, as Rybak and Boyle's chorus of glow-stick wielding hoodied-up grim reapers lead us through a ghost train vision of Mark Renton and his assorted drug buddies in what is essentially a series of cut-up routines taken off the page and injected with rude, noisy life. As Renton, Begbie, Tommy and Sick Boy flit from cartoon wasters to a more tragic downward spiral in an instant, there's a glorious DIY roughness at play designed to mess up the senses.

Where two decades ago the play was of the moment, it remains as urgent as ever despite being a period piece. The female characters seem stronger, while it's easier in hindsight to recognise how a generation thrown onto the scrap-heap were just coming alive again, re-energised and politicised by repetitive beats. Given the current climate, this is a vital restaging that suggests that a brand new generation might just be en route to finding their voice.

The Herald, December 20th 2013

ends



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ceildh

Tron Theatre, Glasgow Three stars
One kiss is all it takes for everyone to understand each other in Catriona Lexy Campbell and Mairi Sine Campbell’s new play. Linguistically that is, as ancient and modern are brought to rollickingly intimate life by the Gaelic-based Theatre Gu Leor (Theatre Galore) company in the Tron’s Vic Bar en route to an extensive cross-Scotland tour. The set-up is the sort of ghastly tartan-draped corporate function whose perma-grinning hostess Lisa makes bogus claims of preserving culture while blatantly intent on flogging it off to the highest bidder. Think McWetherspoon by way of Trumpageddon.
With the audience ushered into a cabaret table arrangement by Lisa’s step-daughter Eilidh and serenaded by Eddie’s oh-so-couthy accordion playing, the dirt from Harris is unearthed along with a bottle of David Beckham-branded whisky. This causes the corporate shindig to be disrupted on an epic scale by seventeenth century poet Mairi Ruadh. Which is when both the kissing an…

The Duke

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Shon Dale-Jones seems like a very nice chap. You can tell from the way he welcomes each member of the audience into the theatre, shaking them by the hand to a soundtrack of energising 1960s feel-good soul. Such a personable approach helps create a warm and intimate atmosphere, so when he sits at a desk with only a laptop, a volume control and us for company, you can’t help but be charmed from the start of this hour-long foray, both into his own fantastical mind as well as the discursive set of first-world contradictions it lets loose into the world.
It begins with a Royal Worcester porcelain figure of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, which Dale-Jones’ dad bought in 1974 for £750. This would make it worth more than £8,000 in today’s money if his mum hadn’t broken it while dusting. This is just one more thing for Dale-Jones to think about as he attempts to apply a script doctor’s ruthless critique onto a film script he’s been working on for a deca…

This House

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Five years is a long time in politics just as it is in the theatre. When James Graham’s epic reimagining of one of the most pivotal eras in late twentieth century British democracy first appeared in 2012, its depiction of the aftermath of the 1974 hung parliament in Westminster chimed with a then current coalition. Half a decade and a couple of referendums on, Graham’s dramatic whizz through to 1979’s successful vote of no confidence in the Labour government now looks like a warning.
Jeremy Herrin and Jonathan O’Boyle’s touring revival of a production first seen at the National Theatre begins with both sides of the House marching en masse in their grey suits and twin-sets down the aisles of the auditorium before cutting a well-choreographed rug in formation. As the Labour and Tory whips mark out their territory away from the chamber, this proves to be one of the few moments of unity in a breathless yarn that picks at the old-school gentleman’s agree…