Theatre that’s really In Your Face

Irvine Welsh. Pic: Comp
Irvine Welsh. Pic: Comp
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WELCOME to the abandoned Leith Central Station. In my mind’s eye I can still see it - graffitied walls, smashed glass panels - panned in, to use the vernacular. I can smell the reek of dereliction, damp and decay, its long faded grandeur now no more than a bolt hole for the port’s winos and junkies, waving off ghost trains through their chemically induced stupors.

But back to the present. A year ago, I was invited to drop in to the Out of the Blue Drill Hall by the production manager of a new production of Irvine Welsh’s darkly beautiful Trainspotting.

The company, I was told, were “looking to create an immersive theatrical experience.” They were called In Your Face Theatre (IYF) - not exactly a subtle name, but then, neither was their production, which, in the icebox that was the Drill Hall, started with a half-hour rave and unfolded over three Arctic hours, or more.

Perched above the action, I watched as the audience was herded from scene to scene, the actors appearing from their midst to deliver lines with a blistering fury before melting back into the throng. It was exciting stuff.

Come the Fringe, IYF were back. This time with a streamlined version of the show. So much more visceral was this incarnation that even Irvine Welsh raved about it after popping in to a performance.

Oh, and 27 more sensitive Fringe-going types fainted during the run, or so I’m told.

On the back of that success, Trainspotting has achieved something very few unfunded local companies manage, a London transfer. Next week they open at the King’s Head Theatre for a four- week season. Invited to sit on their rehearsals over the last few days, they have made a huge impression on me. Talented, passionate and driven. The future of the Capital’s theatre landscape lies in the hands of this company. Break a leg guys.