Trainspotting Live at The Vaults
Irvine Welsh's seminal novel about down and out Scots brings Edinburgh drug and rave culture to the Vaults where audiences can get up close and personal with Renton, Spud and Sick Boy.
Words by Rhainnon Thornton
The publication of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting left a marked impression on 90's youth, a mark which you would probably want to approach with cation and Dettol if you have any wits about you. The proclaimed novel offers a gritty, often revolting and ultimately authentic insight into the lives of the most depraved bunch that the Edinburgh housing schemes have to offer. It has since been celebrated as a welcomed alternative to the falsified Hollywood depiction of working class realities, trainspotting reigns as one of the most beloved depictions of urban youth culture in the last century.
Later adapted for cinema, the appeal of a story like
trainspotting is routed not solely in the scenes used to shock, (if
anyone can forget the iconic bedsheet scene) but in the ever
relevant politics, social commentary and quippy, full bodied and
refreshingly self-aware dialog between characters. These unique
details punctuate the expeditiously paced visuals and gut wrenching
plots, giving the lower class characters multifaceted personality
which is rarely explored in media.
The story follows a gaggle of heroin addicts as they take on the world one score at a time. Each utterly deplorable in their own special way, but this postmodern approach inwhich we follow the protagonists is what creates a viewing experience unlike others. Trainspotting stubs the archetypal flat packed figures which are too often depicted to gain our empathy by proving themselves to their audience as hard working, meek individuals. Oh no, what Welsh depicts is a no holds barred lookat what class struggle really means, giving the working class a platform regardless of whether they are well behaved or not.
Flash forward 20 years later and the iconic story has chosen a
new life on the stage (eh?!). The suitably titled 'In Your Face
Theatre Company' have brought their 75 minute performance to the
Vault Theatre, London. The extremely immersive style of the show
means that there is scarcely an opportunity to separate yourself
from the entrancing depiction. This is an unflinching look at the
most memorable and frequently startling scenes we know, injected
with a new lease of life.
From the get go the audience are gifted with glow sticks in preparation for the electrifying opening rave scene, an early indication that we're about to get what we came for and nothing less. Booming music drowns the room in the spirit of 90's rave culture while our yet to be introduced characters spin around the floor like they're having the best Saturday night in memory.
The Scottish dialect which has followed each adaption plays a weighty part in the performance. It is no secret that the thick vernacular speech which boasts a new delivery of the "Queen's fuckin' English" can be a challenge to translate. This is not to say that you are faced with any temptation to detour from the act because of the unfamiliar tone, just as in Anthony Burgess's Clockwork orange, the use of a boastful slang only helps to immerge the audience into a world in which they do not belong. Although the dialog is not a necessity in drawing the audience in. Not when you are literally part of the act.
What this performance has to offer, which book nor film cannot,
is the theatrical quality which merges blissfully with the grotty,
roaring range of characters. The same wit which is prevalent
throughout Welsh's body of work is heightened by the at times,
comical performances. The audience is encouraged to loosen up and
truly become part of the act, laughing hard with the absurdity of
scenes such as Spud's job interview. It would be difficult not to
get into the spirit; with cast hurdling themselves over spectators
to preform from every corner of the room, (even if that corner is
an audience member's lap).
As everyone settles into the unique display, entranced by the familiarity of the memorable scenes and enlightened by the intensity the live performance brings, it can be shocking when the mood suddenly changes to make way for a peak of darkness within the narrative. Judging from the lines of semi lit faces, it is obvious that everyone is more involved than they had anticipated. Wails of laughter jolt to a piercing silence with rows upon rows of devastated expressions as baby Dawn is found in her crib. With the comfortable audience interaction, natural scene changes and passionate performances it is only expected that the audience reach a heightened level of involvement. There is no back arching or head twisting to get a better view, in other words, there is no opportunity to not face what is happening mere feet in front of you.
Competition T&Cs: Prize package is a pair of general admission tickets to Trainspotting Live at The Vaults, Waterloo. Tickets valid Sunday - Thursday performances only between 30/11/16 and 21/12/16. Subject to availability. Closing date: . The winner will be notified and given 3 days to accept prize, if the winner does not come forward a new winner will be chosen at random. If you have not heard by this time you have not been successful. Prize Package has no cash alternative. The prize cannot be redeemed in exchange for money. Competition open to UK residents Only.