Aug 15 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✭  True Excellence

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

Stepping into the underground world of Trainspotting by In Your Face Theatre requires bravery and a very open mind.

The shocking risks the company chooses to take, not just in the daringly upfront audience interaction, but also in some extremely graphic scenes, pays off, as it gives you no other choice than to fully immerse yourself into the experience.

Gavin Ross. Photo: Christopher Tribble

Gavin Ross. Photo: Christopher Tribble

Mark Renton (Gavin Ross) is a heroin addict attempting to journey to sobriety. He has recently moved from London to Edinburgh, and finds the drugs problem is the same city to city. Trainspotting follows his life and his interaction with friends and other addicts (and soon-to-be addicts) and does not hold back in showing the tremendous ups and downs he faces.

The entrance to the venue sets the play off to an excellent start. Swapping tickets for glow-in-the-dark wristbands, the auditorium is a run down concrete room with no seats, containing a full blown underground rave inside of it. This is a wonderful tone setter, as it forces comfort zones to be pushed in order to be more accepting of some of the more immersive and graphic parts of the show. The actors are committed to staying in character at this point, which crucially makes this part of the performance work and not seem half hearted and unrealistic.

The cast shines both individually and as a collective. A stand out performance is delivered by Chris Dennis playing Frank, who creates an aura of intimidation and aggression via his dominating stage presence. Dennis paints the picture of what would be the initial thoughts of a drug fuelled world; violent and boisterous. However this is balanced out by Gavin Ross’ sterling performance as Mark, who creates a more likeable character, helping to hold focus and make a more layered and three dimensional plot.

slick and effortless

Another great performance comes from Phil Ryan playing Sick Boy. Taking over from another actor, he had very little preparation and rehearsal time, but was able to deliver a performance that looked just as slick and effortless as the other actors. Sick Boy was portrayed brilliantly with a hard exterior but a soft core, which made the character more interesting and believable to watch.

The show begins with a fairly light-hearted tone. The antics of the characters are shown, but they are not painted to be life-altering or overly devastating. However, as it progresses, it takes a darker turn to show the corruption drugs can cause in lives. The company marries this idea with all aspects of the performance, for example, creating subtle alterations in lighting, darkening the room as the play goes on.

As the darker side of the play is shown, the audience interaction and bold squeamish moments that cause the actors and the audience to somewhat blend, such as the full frontal nudity or the graphic mime of reaching through a blocked toilet, is stripped away, creating the feeling that you are now helpless to aid the characters onstage.

An excellently crafted piece of theatre that takes bold risks with the confident knowledge that they will pay off. The hard work put in by the whole company is extremely evident, and deserves a full house every night. Trainspotting is not one to be missed; just don’t see it with mum and dad.

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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