Like Ronseal, the In Your Face Theatre Company does what it says on the tin. Specialising in site-specific drama, the fledgling local group have chosen to stage Irvine Welsh’s Leith based classic on Dalmeny Street, complete with all the glorious full frontal nudity, drug taking and encounters with grim bodily fluids you’d expect.
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Committed to “experiential” drama, company founders and co-directors Christopher Ryback and Craig Boyle open with a 30-minute rave to get the audience primed for their trip back to the mid-1990s.
From there on in, the audience is guided through the venue as the walls change shape around them to reveal new scenes by a sinister Greek chorus who light the action with blinding white lamps.
The actors appear and disappear through the audience that surround them, inviting us to be part of their world, dancing with them, drinking with them, watching in horror as they take drugs beside us. Taking us back to the fireside our ancestors must have shared with the storytellers in their midst, leaning in rapt, waiting for the next part of the story.
For an earnest young group setting out to make a name, Trainspotting is an obvious choice. It has all the shocks and thrills that punters will pitch up to see, yet this is a darker story than it’s filmic counterpart. Renton, Gavin McQueen, is a cocksure boy in denial about the depths of his drug dependency and unwilling to to take any personal responsibility, particularly for his role in Tommy’s addiction. Played by Gregg Esplin, Tommy is a more vulnerable figure than previous incarnations. Esplin’s portrayal of the character on speed is a particular joy.
The disjointed nature of the script, however, means that the audience sees a number of important scenes in the lives of these characters but the cohesion of narrative required to provide a sense of satisfaction at the end of the show never really materialises.
The story increasingly meanders off course to meditate on unnecessary subplots after the first 45 minutes or so – something reflected in the production’s 30-minute over-run.
It will be interesting to return to In Your Face as they refine their ideas and explore further works, the death of The Old Curiosity Shop’s Nell done in such a manner would just about rip a viewer’s heart out.
• Run ends December 22. Age recommendation: 16-plus