Brighton FringeDramaReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: Trainspotting Live – Sweet King Alfred’s

Writer: Irvine Welsh
Adaptor: Harry Gibson
Director: Adam Spreadbury-Maher with Greg Esplin
Reviewer: Sophie Huggins

Met with the immediate scent of sweat, the sound of heavy trance and the feel of no sleep, this show is set to immerse all of your senses in a heartbeat. This is Trainspotting Live at its finest and even before it begins there is a sense of being in the middle of a night out, in the depths of an underground rave where the drugs are as hard as the people.

Once led into the heart of the party, with flashing coloured lights blinding above (excellent design from Clancy Flynn), there is a clear traverse stage where the cast of seven from In Your Face Theatre dance ferociously, welcoming the audience to their world. They tell the story of Mark Renton and his friends, caught in the everyday lifestyle of 1980s Edinburgh: a hard-hitting heroin scene. This “elixir that takes and gives life” provides the inevitable downfall of the characters and causes many tragedies on its way. Originally written as a novel by Irvine Welsh and then adapted into a film, directed by Danny Boyle, this 75-minute production certainly encapsulates the essence of its rough and ready setting and truly transports the audience to each scene – politely or not is another matter. The poetic, metaphorical language found in the original telling is at the core and twists the sad, violent and often horrific scenes into acts of art; the light and the dark here perfectly coexist.

Although the dialect is not always easy to understand, the ensemble is simultaneously mesmerising and frightening to watch. In their immersion of the audience, they are blunt, bold and unforgiving and it is wonderful (and terrifying) to see them at play. Gavin Ross as Mark Renton carries the perfect mix of nutcase and softie and despite his frequent bowel incidents, is a character the audience grow quite attached to by the end. Sometimes, as the problem with adaptations, the essential story can be lost but overall, this tenacious cast is charming at guiding the audience back.

Unafraid to provoke and probe, this show laughs in the face of prudishness and is certainly not for the fainthearted. Raw, relentless and straight from the gut: this show isn’t one to miss and will be the best night out you’ve had in a long time.

Reviewed on 21 May 2017 

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The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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