Trainspotting comes back to Leith

Trainspotting returns to the stage. Picture: comp
Trainspotting returns to the stage. Picture: comp
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RENTON, Spud, Sick Boy and Tommy - four characters who, with the help of a headcase nicknamed Begbie, put Leith well and truly back on the map (albeit for the wrong reasons) in 1996. That was they year Irvine Welsh’ debut novel, Trainspotting, was adapted for the big screen.

Dark, twisted and graphic, few cannot fail to know that Trainspotting tells the story of Mark Renton and his mates as they battle to survive the Capital’s heroin scene of the eighties.

Later this month, at the Out Of The Blue Drill Hall, on Dalmeny Street, there’s a chance to relive those dark days when In Your Face Theatre bring the story home, complete with a blessing of Welsh himself.

He says, “Seeing my words performed by actors had a big impact on me. I went to see a rehearsal of the original Traverse production in 1994. I was thinking, ‘It’s only my scabby wee book, what the f**k is all the fuss about?’

“It was when I saw them doing their lines, the whole thing was removed from my head into the world, and I saw it for the first time how others were experiencing it. I felt the power of it for the first time.

“I walked out there believing that I had actually done something special. I knew it would be a great play, and I wish In Your Face Theatre well with this new production”.

Based on that original stage adaptation by Harry Gibson, which premiered a full two years before the movie was released, the In Your Face production promises to be an immersive experience.

Co-director Craig Boyle explains, “My first experience of Trainspotting was the 90s movie. However, the play and book on which it’s based, is one of the most culturally significant moments in Scottish arts.

“Following the success of our Fringe production, The Hardman, it was important to find a story which would allow us to create a whole new world, where you don’t simply just view theatre, you live and experience it.

“Choosing Trainspotting has given us the opportunity to perform in that immersive style.”

It’s a style In Your Face Theatre specialise in and for Trainspotting they aim to create a world in which the audience will live the story, rather than just observing the action as it unfolds.

Co-director Christopher Rybak says, “Theatre has one great advantage over cinema - it is real. You can touch it. It is a living entity.

“Let’s not make theatre for only one set of people. I want to make theatre for everyone. I want to try to help show that theatre is not what you think.

“Theatre can simply be a night out at the pub; a good story, with good acting; a night of pure entertainment. And what better way to showcase this than with such a commercially popular and wholly engaging story as Trainspotting?

“When it came to selecting a follow up to The Hard Man, we never looked much further than Trainspotting. It is one of Scotland’s, if not the world’s, most ‘in your face’ movies.

“What quickly became a great passion for us, however, and integral to our production, was to bring the story home, right back to its heart, Leith, a place which holds Irvine Welsh and his stories most dearly at heart.

“Making Trainspotting come to life in such a unique way has been a refreshing and enjoyable challenge. I wanted people to not just choose life, but to choose to live the Trainspotting experience. This is a night out in the world of Trainspotting and all we ask is that the audience come ready to interact and be a part of the story.”

While the audience may have their parts to play, the action will be led by local actor Gavin Ross, who dons the Ewan McGregor role, Mark Renton.

“Portraying Renton has been an exciting challenge and tremendously fun,” he says.

“I see Renton as a guy who looks at his life from the outside in and is never happy with what he sees.

“There are many sides to him, and experimenting with them has been very interesting. Walking that line between morbidity and hope and finding the right balance has been the real challenge.”

Ross is joined by Greg Esplin as Tommy, Chris Dennis as Begbie and Erin Marshall as Alison, with other roles played by a seven-strong ensemble comprising Rachel Anderson, Jessica Innes, Ajay Stevenson, Matt Swift, Philip Rainford, Stuart Patrick Workman and Calum Verrecchia.

Trainspotting, Out Of The Blue Drill Hall, Dalmenty Street, 16-22 December, 7pm, £10-£12,