Reviewed by Jan Mellor
I attended The Lowry in Manchester (6 June 2017) to see Trainspotting as I was intrigued as to how the disturbing, aggressive and depraved film could transfer to stage/theatre (not realising that the story had actually started as theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1995). The film had haunted me about how drug addiction completely destroys normal life and I wanted to see it ‘in the flesh.
On entering the theatre, the audience were issued with glow stick wrist bands (orange and green – the orange meant sitting on benches and nearer the front and the green meant sitting on chairs further at the back) and soft foam ear plugs – “it’s going to be loud in there” we were warned. Also warnings were displayed on the entrance wall proclaiming that this production would have haze, lasers, strobe lighting, loud music, drug use, coarse language, simulated violence and scenes of a sexual nature – evidently this wasn’t a show for the prudish or easily offended. With a minimum age limit set at 16 this was definitely an adult production. On entering the theatre – which was set with a central area and seats at either side – we were met by load ‘garage’ music from the 80s/90s and 6 dancing young adults who welcomed the audience with jeers and aggressive rants. Instantly we knew this was going to be different. As the music stopped the cast instantly involve the audience as they swear (constantly) and scour through the infamous aggressive dialogue of the film. There is spitting, sexual intercourse (simulated), beer spilling and intrusion of punter’s personal space but acted brilliantly within such a confined area. The audience, although with some anticipation, loved it and were intrigued as to what shocking activity the crew would next immerse them in. The toilet scene and bed scene with stained sheets and used condoms could have been offensive but if the audience were offended by this maybe they were at the wrong show.
The cast covered the horror of the loss of life, drug addiction, cot death and desperation in an explicit, passionate and dramatic way with astounding acting and realism. Although at times I felt that I wanted to look away, I couldn’t, I was drawn and mesmerised by the whole ensemble and even felt compassion for them by the end of the 75 minute intense act. The 7 actors grabbed you by the throat, swallowed you whole and spat you out (metaphorically) and the film exploded amongst us.
As the audience left comments heard were “that was amazing, terrific, awesome” and I agreed with them. They had actually exceeded my expectations and brought the film not only to us but within us. An excellent delivery that would make Irvine Welsh (the author) very proud.
If you love the film, see this, it will blow you away!
Tickets cost from £22 to £27 (booking fees may apply).
Trainspotting is at The Lowry in Manchester from 6-10 June 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000