Trainspotting

Trainspotting
By Irvine Welsh (adapted by Harry Gibson). Andrew Kay and Associates and Adelaide Festival Centre present a Kings Head & In Your Face production. Adelaide Fringe Festival. Station Underground, Hindley Street, Adelaide., Feb 17-Mar 19, 2017; fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne, Mar 22 - Apr 13, 2017; Brisbane Powerhouse, Apr 19 - 22.

Evolving from the printed page to the cinema screen to a live theatrical rave (taking place in the most ideal of Adelaide locations), this is the version of Trainspotting that can truthfully be described as not just in-your-face, but possibly in-your-lap (or even on-your-glasses, as the case may be).

If you're not already familiar with the characters or the finer details of the story, this may not be the best place to start - but there is no doubt that you will be left shaken up and wrung out, as one would expect from any authentic depiction of drug addiction. It is honest enough to acknowledge the singular thrill of the heroin rush, as well as the terrible grip it wields over its users, and the often ghastly consequences that entail. Just like a drug itself, Trainspotting is exhilarating and hilarious - until it isn't anymore. By the end, the party-time glow-sticks given out upon arrival begin to feel like very empty, useless objects.

Newcomers need to know that Trainspotting is exceedingly impolite entertainment; at least 50% of its vocabulary can be spelt with four letters. It contains violence against women that, while relatively brief and responsibly justified by context, may prove unbearable and unwatchable for some viewers. There is a point early on when this reviewer was ready to accuse the show of opportunistically offering up a flash of female nudity as an easy thrill for an audience - until we also got served up an extended feast of equal-opportunity exposure in a scene as funny as it is grimy.

What can feel like mere chaotic anarchy is actually executed with a great deal of artistry, even discipline. The level of energy and comedy and aggression and pain required from this remarkable cast is almost beyond belief. You may find it to be sensory overload - but then, that will rate as a warning to some, but also the highest possible recommendation to others.

Anthony Vawser

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