Review: Trainspotting at Pleasance at EICC
4★★★★

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose seeing Trainspotting at the Fringe. When your ticket is exchanged for a glow bracelet, you know this show is something different. The show begins its foray into immersive theatre as you’re led through the depths of the EICC into a warehouse rave set-up, with 90s techno blasting, and the cast members cutting shapes up and down the cat-walk-like stage.

The atmosphere is tense, gripped and electric, as each of the five cast members engage with the audience in character. This interaction with the audience is done perfectly; Renton, the show’s ‘antihero’ talks eloquently to the crowd, willing them to believe his side of any story; Tommy (an amalgamation of book-Tommy and Spud) wins everyone over with his endearing naivete; and Sick Boy flirts his way up both sides of the audience. When Francis ‘Franco’ Begbie makes his first appearance, everyone stiffens, terrified of being singled out by him.

The female characters – admittedly more sparse than in the novel – are all played by the sensational Lauren Downie, who is a stand-out amongst other excellent performances. She is able to subtly portray a stern DSS worker, concerned mother, sex-obsessed partner, domestic abuse victim and drug-addicted grieving mother, each with careful consideration where she crafts distinct, 3-dimensional personalities for these different characters.

The pacing never misses a beat, and carries the narrative to just the right tempo. The most memorable moments from the novel are covered – many of which caused the audience to recoil in fear at the all-too-realistic props. The scenes of drug use create an uncomfortable atmosphere, and rightly so – spectacular lighting and outstanding acting make for unbreakable tension. The only let down that comes with this play are some of the accents. The Edinburgh dialect and Edinburgh Scots are so distinctive, it is noticeable where there is a slip-up by some of the non-Scottish cast members. This is a real shame when every performance does pack a serious punch.

This play is visceral, frightening, hilarious and enchanting all in equal measure. Superb acting and a truly unique set-up are what keep people coming to this show year after year, and if In Yer Face’s latest production is anything to go by, audiences will be choosing Trainspotting for years to come.

Trainspotting Live, EICC, until 26 Aug (not 21), times vary

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