Aug 16 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✭  Obtrusive Masterpiece

Young critics scheme review
Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17): Wed 5 – Mon 31 Aug 2015

Visceral images, bombarding music and the classically sorrowful plot, In Your Face Theatre immerses you in Irvine Welsh’s drug-fuelled Trainspotting.

The play deals with Mark Renton’s (Gavin Ross) relationship with heroin. In the closed-off space of Assembly George Square’s Underground the audience is close to the action as the effects of substance abuse and poverty are spewed out.

The Trainspotting cast get in your face. Photo: Christopher Tribble

The Trainspotting cast get in your face. Photo: Christopher Tribble

True to their name the company gets in your face. They draw the audience in through whispered conversations, shoving you off your seat and screaming in your face – challenging you, the boundaries of actor-audience relationships and society. The audience stops watching and starts living the performance.

Gavin Ross as Renton is outstanding. He lays bare the character and through every deliberate stare, step and breath you see the stark detail of this lost man. His commitment and confidence are unflinching.

Phil Ryan as Simon Sick Boy, an addict friend of Renton’s, starts less strongly as he portrays a hard-nosed yet reserved character. However, he quickly gains momentum as he delivers a fixating, desperately emotional performance.

Directors Adam Spreadbury-Maher and Greg Esplin make excellent choices. The set is both grotesque and realistic which disgusts and adds to the discomfort. Throughout there is narration from Renton and the whole cast – this builds pace and tension.

claustrophobic atmosphere

In-the-round staging and the unconventional seating arrangement create a tense, claustrophobic atmosphere as characters can be surrounded by both the cast and the audience.

Alison (Erin Marshall) shows the two-faced nature of substance abuse. Marshall is completely believable as she portrays a care-free and happy woman who becomes a devastated, emotional wreck.

Swanney (Calum Douglas-Barbour) lacks believability. The Mother Superior drug-supplying character comes off as too posh and the physicality of the character suggests someone in good health.

The tension is palpable as this production bombards your emotions. Beautifully acted, well-directed and slick, this is a must-see.

Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17) George Square, EH8 9LH
Wednedsday 5 – Monday 31 August 2015
Daily (not Tues): 6pm and 8.30pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:


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