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Trainspotting @ Adelaide Fringe Review

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Irvine Welsh’s 'Trainspotting' is now an urban fable; the tale of Sick Boy and Rents is as entrenched in the public psyche as 'The Tortoise And The Hare'.

Fans of the film may jauntily strut into the purpose-built basement venue, Station Underground, falsely assuming they are prepared for what will unfold; some simulated heroin usage, the tragic death of an infant, a smattering of faeces; no big deal, right?

Wrong.

You are not prepared unless you have seen the show before or have been an addict yourself. There is a detachment that comes from watching drama depicted on a screen or even a stage. With this show, though, the audience surrounds a strip of stage akin to a catwalk, along which the heroin chic cast traipse, adorned in retro Scottish fashion. They are not confined to this narrow avenue, however; they persistently break the fourth wall, interacting and engaging ticket holders with their antics: dancing, flirting or berating; flinging faeces smeared bedding or exposed penises with abandon.

They build a bridge between viewer and player while everyone is on a happy high; like with drug addiction, it is all laughs and bliss in the beginning. Having established this bond, when the come down inevitably arrives, it hits like a sledgehammer, humanising addicts in the process.

It is not simply the content of the show that may be challenging to audiences. Most characters speak in a thick Scottish accent; this is not Billy Connolly or Sean Connery Scottish, but rather a grimy, street level dialect that has not been toned down or softened for foreign ears. As with opera, a genre that director Adam Spreadbury-Maher has specialised in, you simply must accept that you may not comprehend every syllable.

Each member of the cast so fully embodies their character (or characters in some instances) that they could be speaking in Aramaic and you could still follow the plot.

When the finale arrives and ‘Born Slippy’ blasts from the speakers, it is your cue to rise to your feet and applaud, slightly in awe at the remarkable adaptation you just witnessed.

★★★★★

'Trainspotting' plays at Station Underground until 19 March.

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