Trainspotting Live review: Trainspotting Live leaves Edinburgh audience blown away ahead of UK tour dates in Manchester, Glasgow and London

I’ve never been so close to a stranger’s bare bottom - especially not with a crowd watching – so I wasn’t prepared for a soiled bum in my face on a trip to the theatre.
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Trainspotting Live has sold out for the previous five years of Edinburgh Fringe and as my first experience of interactive in-yer-face theatre, I can see why.

We were led downstairs to the lower levels of the EICC where we were held up in a queue as a colour coded glowstick was attached to our wrists, as an alternative to traditional seating rows.

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As I stepped into a dark room with blaring music and colourful strobed lighting, I thought of this and wondered if I had accidentally stepped into a well-concealed Edinburgh nightclub, instead of the theatre performance I was expecting.

Trainspotting Live is going on a UK tour
Pic by: Geraint LewisTrainspotting Live is going on a UK tour
Pic by: Geraint Lewis
Trainspotting Live is going on a UK tour Pic by: Geraint Lewis

Trainspotting Live follows Renton’s battle to get clean from heroin and the adventures he and his friends have along the way. From the get-go, the actors had everyone in stitches of laughter (even each other at times) as they clambered over and harassed the audience.

One thing to note is that I would recommend re-watching the movie beforehand if you can, as the story tends to switch quickly between scenes, which left me trying to remember the movie plot to catch up at times.

There are some adaptations made to the original story, one being that Spud never made an appearance. However, his presence was still felt as the writers included some of his stories, just acted out by the other characters.

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For example, the scene in which Spud soils the bed was instead acted out by Renton (Andrew Barrett).

Greg Esplin as Tommy in Trainspotting Live
Pic by: Geraint LewisGreg Esplin as Tommy in Trainspotting Live
Pic by: Geraint Lewis
Greg Esplin as Tommy in Trainspotting Live Pic by: Geraint Lewis

I had considered myself safe, sat in the traditional seating, behind the three rows of bleachers as a stark naked and soiled Renton clambered over the audience.

Low and behold Renton made his way to my seat bending over, bottom inches away from my face, taking his time to towel the waste from his nude body – managing to get some on my knees in the process.

I don’t know if I felt more sorry for myself or the blushed face of the guy on the row in front who inadvertently looked up to get a face of... well, balls.

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As the lady beside me laughed along, the older gentleman next to her looked unamused, repeatedly checking his watch – a reminder to be careful about who you bring along.

This show is definitely not for the faint hearted. Other unlucky punters found themselves yanked onstage or covered in toilet water and debris from the ‘Worst Toilet in Scotland’ scene and if you’re bald or wear glasses, you might be better off just staying home if you can’t handle the heckling that will come your way.

As the show went on, the fun quickly dissipated as the stark cries, following the death of baby Dawn, and depiction of Tommy’s downward spiral served as a jolting reminder that Trainspotting is, of course, a depiction of the horrifying reality of drug use.

With only a sofa at one side and a bed at the other the actors did a tremendous job at bringing Trainspotting to life and from the sheer projection of their voices to the nudity, the actors’ dedication to their roles was immaculate.

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Having only recently moved to Edinburgh, I knew that I wanted to experience the famous Fringe Festival but as I flicked through the programme I felt frankly overwhelmed by the sheer number of options.

I chose Trainspotting Live as my first show as it was the one show that came up every time I asked people for recommendations, my only fear now is that this cast have set the bar too high.

This was a superb introduction to the festival and the show’s UK tour, which will see it visit the likes of Glasgow, Manchester and London, and while it can be grotesque, it’s worth going. If you hate it, at least you know you’ll never see anything like it again!

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