REVIEW: Trainspotting, King’s Head Theatre ✭✭✭✭

Trainspotting at the King's Head Theatre, London
Photo: Christopher Tribble

King’s Head
Four stars

The comedy, violence and poetry of Irvine Welsh’s modern classic Trainspotting bursts into life on stage in In Your Face Theatre’s adaptation that has come to the King’s Head. Originating at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2014, the acclaimed production retains its energy and dark humour.

You know to expect something different when you arrive at the theatre and are given a snap-and-glow stick with your programme. Step inside and you are in a 90s rave, with the whole cast dancing in the centre, encouraging the new arrivals to join them.

The play tells the story of drug addict Mark Renton and his friends in their day-to-day lives of shooting up and signing on. Through short fragmentary scenes, you see them navigate a world of drug dealers, death and casual violence.

While this darkness permeates the play, it is lifted by the comedy and strong performances, most notably Gavin Ross as Renton, Chris Dennis as the terrifying Begbie and Greg Esplin as Renton’s best friend, Tommy. Greg also impresses as director of the show which captures the robust poetry of Walsh’s language in a text by Harry Gibson.

With the audience sat and stood around three sides, the action regularly erupts off the stage, from projectile soiled sheets to splashes of murky toilet water. At 65 minutes, it moves along at a cracking and sometimes disorienting pace that leaves you staggering out of the theatre feeling like you’ve been assaulted (but in a good way).

Trainspotting runs until April 11, 2015 at the King’s Head Theatre.

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