Friday, 20 December 2013

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

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