A few years back, a friend asked me for advice on adapting one of his stories for performance. Originally a short story, then a short film, he now wanted to get it on stage. I suggested it came down to one question: Why theatre? What is it about theatre that you can only tell your story this way? In other words, can you justify the work artistically?
With Trainspotting Live, the answer is yes. Yes. YES.
Well, “Aye,” would probably be more appropriate, but I digress. Trainspotting Live is one of the most fantastic theatrical experiences I have ever… been in the same room with. I can’t say, “Witnessed,” because that’s too passive a word for what happens in the space.
I don’t want to give too much away, but beginning with Irvine Welsh’s literary grit, Danny Boyle’s cinematic bravado, In Your Face Theatre have done that very good thing of making a show that honours its origins, yet stands distinct on its own. Gone are any capers about selling drugs and splitting money. What we get are fourth wall battering (also seducing, threatening, and splattering) performances.
Starting with a 20 minute rave as the audience take their seats, more sonic bombardment than dance music, the cast charge the oncoming story of hedonism, hilarity, and despair, with a righteous display of physicality and abandon.
Here, the character of Renton doesn’t give the “Choose life” monologue. He doesn’t have to. The words are written on wristbands worn by the audience, seated in traverse like a jury. Here, the words resonate without having to be said, the fourth wall bending thematically the other direction.
Because it’s not all shouting and violence, there are moments of real intimacy. Not in the romantic sense, rather but in recognising that even the best of friendships can come with a cost. This is remarkable work. You may leave fortyfivedownstairs with a modicum of relief, but you will definitely leave with gratitude for having been there.
fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 23 March 2017 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 13 April 2017
Brisbane Powerhouse, 119 Lamington Street, New Farm
Season: 19 – 22 April 2017
For more information, visit: www.trainspottinglive.com for details.
Image: Trainspotting Live (supplied)
Review: David Collins