Me and Trainspotting have a weird history. One time I found the film on YouTube and when I came back it was deleted. A few weeks before coming to Edinburgh I was asked to do a piece for Quench about the upcoming sequel. I ordered the DVD for about £2 on Amazon but when I opened the case the disc was for Arbitrage.
So up til I saw the play adaptation last night I did not know the whole story. Several scenes from the film are knitted together in this incredible experience.
That’s right, I’m laying on the hyperbole in paragraph two. This really is one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. It’s certainly the best thing I’ve seen at the Fringe and I would say it’s a must see as the best play to match Nina Conti 's best comedy (incidentally I reckon I saw Nina Conti at the Pleasance Dome before I went into Assembly, but I was too chicken to get an autograph or anything).
The audience gathered outside a garage. Tickets were traded for glow sticks which, wrapped around wrists, became proof of entry. We were ushered into the play which is actually set in a mix between a nightclub and a squat. Did I mention it’s basically a garage? The audience basically squats in uncomfortable seating dotted around the edges of the club. There’s a big pillar in the middle. It’s all so very unorthodox.
Oh, and my friend and I were sat next to the most disgusting toilet you’ll ever see. Later in the play it’s described as so bad that guys just peed through the entrance door so as not to actually step foot in the bathroom. And yet soon enough our main character will make his way in and enjoy a few gross out moments with closely seated audience members.
The characters start off dancing, off their faces on one thing or another in a nightclub scene that looks more intense than any I’ve been to (Isn’t Trainspotting set in the 90s though? Why are they playing Sandstorm?). Smoke cascades around freshly seated audience members and the madcap antics of dangerous men are played out all over the murky room.
Yet for all its crazy effects, gross liquids, and funny Glaswegian accents, this is a play far darker than any comedy. Rigby is an addict and Tommy is his friend who’s also got issues. They’ve got weird mates, who get naked and fight and scream and of course do heroin (skag, as they say).
It was coincidence that I watched this after Yokes Night, but this performance wins out because it’s had more money spent on it. It’s an amazing, moving experience (rather than simply a play adaptation of the book and film) that I can’t recommend enough. It probably has the best acting I’ve ever seen, and is certainly in the top five plays I’ve seen in my life.
In short- WATCH IT BEFORE YOU LEAVE! And also never ever do heroin.