REVIEW: Trainspotting Live, The Dukes, Lancaster

Trainspotting Live. Picture by Geraint Lewis
Trainspotting Live. Picture by Geraint Lewis

“Lager, lager, lager, shouting, mega, mega, white thing!”

Underworld’s Born Slippy boomed its way out of The Round as hints of smoke escaped on to Moor Lane.

It was not a quiet Friday night at the theatre, this was a rave, no seat assignment, no intervals and certainly no room for embarrassment.

This was Trainspotting Live – and we chose it.

Ear plugs were handed to the queue, (my arrogance over my experience of loud music prompted me to discard mine) followed by glow sticks which were tied to our wrist.

The faint neon glow guided us through the fog to our seats as the cast danced to 90s dance music in the centre, perhaps high on our hesitation.

For those of you who have not seen the cult classic 1996 film Trainspotting, based on the novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh, let me briefly fill you in. The story follows a group of heroin addicts in a deprived area of Edinburgh, who try to get through life in whatever way they can.

Brought to you by In Your Face Theatre and directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher in collaboration with Greg Esplin, Trainspotting Live is a 75 minute adrenaline ride.

The stories of Renton (played by Gavin Ross), Tommy (played by Greg Esplin), Sick Boy (played by Michael Lockerbie who looks just like Johnny Lee Miller), Begbie (played by Chris Dennis), Mother Superior (played by Calum Barbour), Laura (played by Rachael Anderson) and Alison (played by Erin Marshall) are brought to life with humour, poetry and provocatively graphic scenes.

Strong language, sex, drug use, nudity, domestic violence and death are among the main themes (hence the 16 and over rating), not for the faint-hearted.

Immediately the audience, some of whom a little too close for comfort, were introduced to the main character, a nude Mark Renton.

Two young guys were sat on the first step which circles the round and it became clear who was going to be the pick-on favourites – after all this was an immersive experience.

Renton began to wave his privates forcefully behind their heads.

I felt smug, sat behind the sofa prop with only three on our row, out of the way.

I was wrong, soiled sheets (chocolate spread of course) came flying my way.

Begbie also decided to lash his beer over the back of the sofa.

The older audience members handled this extremely well, particularly those who received screams and pretend excrement in their faces.

I am not saying they shouldn’t handle it well but to watch what could be your grandma being lashed with pretend bodily fluids can be a little toe curling.

Renton was not the only one to embrace nudity on stage, Tommy and Alison also braved the task.

The notorious “Worst Toilet in Scotland” scene highlighted the great extent to which Renton was to go to feed his habit, he retched and so too did we as he dug his way down the toilet for drugs.

The performance moved very quickly, and the Scottish utterances were sometimes hard to follow among the swearing but overall you became adjusted.

You rooted for Renton and Tommy as they tried for jobs, you rooted for Begbie to leave Laura alone as he hit her, you rooted for Tommy not to die.

But you chose this journey with them, you chose Trainspotting.

A superb ride.