Trainspotting Live Review

Quays Theatre, The Lowry, Manchester – until 10 June 2017.  Reviewed by Julie Noller

Thank You for allowing me to watch Trainspotting Live.

I was going to start this review before leaving home, why? Well when you get an email from the theatre, a warning email at that, yikes what had I let myself in for? Worse still what was I dragging my husband too?

It came with the following additional information;

Over 16’s only

Warning; This immersive production contains nudity, strong language, sex, violence,drug/needle use and lots of mess. May induce claustrophobia.

I was then confused and went into semi meltdown of what to wear? Old clothes? Paper decorating suit? You know just incase, after all I’ve seen the 1996 film, I’ve read the Irving Welsh book.

Collecting my tickets on arrival at The Lowry, nothing was being given away . Not quite knowing what to expect adds to the hype on the night, tickets came with no seat number on as is usual for The Lowry but was ‘by general admission’, would there be a free for all on seats? . Then the excitement went up a notch, people waiting outside The Quays were given a glow band, we were asked to show our tickets. OMG why were we given that colour? Why do other people have a different colour? Why did I not wear the paper suit? Something else for free? Try earplugs, yes you read right, we were given ear plugs ‘because the start can be quite loud’. My excitement had reached fever pitch levels, I wanted to get in there, I was starting to regret my curiosity over how would they do that toilet scene. It was explained to the waiting crowd soon to be audience that the seating plan inside the theatre was not as we were used to but had been altered for the performance ahead, that the performers would be seating us, all we had to do was show our band. The music drifting out of the theatre was taking me back, I truly felt like I was stepping inside a time machine back to the heady days of raves. How do I describe inside the theatre? Black, loud music – basically looking like a rave. All theatre seating had been removed, large black platforms had become the seats. For the lucky there were some chairs placed at the back on top of the platforms. Gratefully thanking The Lowry gods I took my seat, a proper seat and not a box. It quickly became apparent what immersive performance would mean, performers took swigs out of the audiences drinks (this is why hot drinks weren’t allowed) and showered us with drink spray, I allowed my eyes to span the room, oh dear God just 4 seats down from me was the toilet, yes that’s the worst toilet in Scotland. It was ok for us hiding on the back row but I watched the fearful glances of those not so lucky to be seated next to it, panic fully showing across their faces. There’s a bed without covers at one end and a sofa at the opposite end with people seated around it, lets just say lucky them with the bed sheet scene. The music subsides and we are introduced to the characters we know well; Renton (Gavin Ross) Begbie (Chris Dennis) Tommy (Greg Esplin) Sick Boy (Michael Lockerbie) Mother Superior (Finlay Bain) Alison (Erin Marshall) June (Rachael Anderson – who also did a brilliant job running round trying to seat everyone)

This is a different kind of theatre, yes its full of bad language, drugs and nudity. It shows a time that’s history now, of despair and no hope. It’s funny and equally sad, it’s fast paced, its down right disgusting when the toilet contents are worn by audience members, tip don’t sit by the toilet if you can help it or are perhaps of a weak constitution. Expect to be climbed over, sat on, to be insulted, to be pushed and spat over. Allow yourself to remember it’s a performance by an extremely talented young cast, more importantly allow yourself to become immersed for 75 minutes and love it….. choose life, choose a career, choose family, choose Trainspotting Live. They fully deserved my standing ovation, I believe more would’ve stood if they weren’t totally shell-shocked, I felt as if I had lived through Trainspotting Live not as a bystander but as if I was on a roller-coaster from start to finish. If you’re as lucky as we were the cast may join you in the bar afterwards, of course we were gushing. Be realistic – its gritty, dark and yes messy but don’t let that put you off, you’ll regret it.

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