“I was shocked… and I wrote the f*cking thing” – Irvine Welsh
Fresh from its phenomenal success on a world tour, the smash hit, immersive theatre production of Irvine Welsh and Danny Boyle’s iconic, generation defining Trainspotting returns to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Performed in a tunnel that has never been used for a show before, In Your Face Theatre’s Scottish cast have created a snappy and vibrant affirmation of the power and humour of the piece.
Against a dynamic soundscape of 80s dance music, the stories of a group of friends living through the Edinburgh heroin scene – Renton, Tommy, Sick Boy, Begbie and Alison – are brought to life with humour, poetry and provocatively graphic scenes.
We caught up with co-director Greg Esplin, who also plays the role of Tommy for a chat about the show:
Trainspotting Live has been around since 2013, has a worldwide tour under it’s belt, and is a huge fan favourite at the Fringe, how much has the play stuck to it’s original source material? Has it evolved much over the past 4 years?
After nearly 700 performances the play has certainly evolved over the years but I think this is important and key to the production’s success. That said, we always stay very true to the original source – the book/play. I think it’s slicker and sharper than when we began from day one the spirit in which we started the show has been maintained.
The play will be performed in a tunnel under the EICC, which has never been used for a show before, can you tell us a bit more about the set and it’s ‘immersive staging’? I’ve been told it’s best not to be in the front row during the infamous ‘toilet scene’?
Yes! We love using new spaces that wouldn’t be the norm for theatre. It’s an exciting new venue and it’s going to be even cosier than normal! The set is very minimal because we use the audience for a lot of carrying and moving the show forward. I would honestly say if you want the best experience then do sit in the front seat!
Many spaces used on the tour have been quite unusual, including music venues, smaller arts venues, and old warehouses rather then more traditional theatres, is this to add to the immersive feel? Where is the most interesting place you have taken the play?
I just think it’s important to never over look a space when it comes up. You’d be amazed what a great tech team can achieve in a space. I think different spaces work great because it forces us to keep evolving the show and when we move into a new space we find new things about the show.
Most interesting space I think… either the abandoned warehouse in Birmingham or the old train driver’s bar underneath Bristol Temple Meads station. It’s nice being in a space that feels like it has its own story.
Trainspotting 2 was released last year, what kind of effect has this had on the play?
I think it has just helped keep Trainspotting in the public eye really. We are very lucky that Irvine Welsh already supports the show whole heartedly and we now have a little bit of a following from the – almost 100,000 – audience members who keep coming back!
Are there any plans to put Trainspotting 2 or Porno on stage? I’ve read that Irvine Welsh is a big supporter of your work?
The feeling is very mutual, we love his work. We would love to put more of his writing on stage and it’s something we will be in dialogue with him about. He really does have so many amazing pieces of work out there.
Do you have any pre-show warnings or advice for audiences heading to the Fringe and seeing the play for the first time? “Not for the faint of heart” seems to come up a lot.
Honestly, just arrive with an open mind and remember if Begbie upsets you, it’s not our actor it’s the character! We love our audience and need you guys for the performance to really work so we don’t want to upset you… too much.