Trainspotting, SEDOS – Spotlites @ The Merchants’ Hall
***** (5 stars)
The Practical Magic Theatre Company are out to shock with their adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, and shock they do. Welcomed by the presence of a completely naked Dan Todd who plays main character Mark, the audience is immediately made to feel uneasy. This however, is nothing compared to the disturbing emotions tackled in this cult classic about drug abuse and the gruesome effects it has on Mark and those who surround him.
A grimy set and vulgar language sets the tone as the tale is told in Edinburgh with a cast who emulate graphic drug use that often leads to violence and eventually painful withdrawal symptoms. Truly haunting and convincing performances evoke sympathy for the characters. During the trials and tribulations however, there are bouts of comedy that relieve the tension and allow the audience to absorb what they have just witnessed. Hannah Garner’s portrayal of Alison is memorable and ruthless and her piercing scream reverberates throughout the venue when she finds her baby dead of cot death.
All of the cast show a wonderful ability to portray the seriousness of their subject matter and also engage in some light hearted banter. Harry Gibson’s adaptation has the perfect balance between comedy and tragedy. Perfectly toned music adds to the performances as well as sensitive lighting that suggests isolation and pain, and even during the stage changes the magic is not broken.
Walking out of the theatre I overheard the audience discussing amongst themselves that was ‘quite different from the film’ and was ‘not what I expected’ which made me glad I walked into this production completely blind. I was of course familiar with the cult following and the film starring Ewan McGregor but had never taken the time to see it. I am now glad I had no preconceptions as frankly, after seeing this adaptation it will be hard to improve on it and I am impressed that such a popular tale has had such a successful interpretation to stage. The Practical Magic Theatre Company has performed Trainspotting all over Scotland but only for short runs. This memorable and gritty production is well worth taking the time to see though.
spotlites @ the merchants’ hall, 14th August.