Safe to say though we were pleasantly surprised to see just how different Harry Gibson and director Gareth Nicholls' approach to Irvine Welsh’s famous novel was to that of the 'Trainspotting Live' production which has already entertained theatre-goers in the capital for several August's passed.
Whereas the Fringe production is in-your-face, techno-heavy throughout and pushes the vulgarity and unashamed-uncensorship of Welsh’s book to the extremes, the production we watched at the King’s Theatre felt more measured, more considered and more focused around Welsh's actual writing.
Anyone who has read the book will now how it jumps from scene to scene and chapter to chapter almost without narrative - providing little windows into the lives of each of Welsh’s protagonists and using brilliantly-unique, original working class narrators to keep you hooked.
Gibson and Nicholls took this formula and stuck it on stage. This was very much a literal interpretation of the book. Some scenes were even acted with just a spotlight on the one actor or actress in question, reading their monologue with no more than one prop in hand.
The genius of this is that with the right cast - and the cast really were magnificent - the words do all the work for you. The most notable exception of this was Alison’s (Chloe-Anne Tylor) darkly humorous explanation of how to deal with pretentious university goers early in the second half. The set was minimal for Tylor's scene - one spotlight and one chair, but the audience was in stitches throughout and it’s maybe one of the most memorable scenes of the play.
The play might have started a little slower than we would have liked as it established the style and characters of the play, and at times in the first half we did wonder whether more outlandish, in-your-face acting was indeed needed, but as the play progressed it became clear how crucial the style was to the message, and we left nothing short of delighted.
If nothing else, this is a simply fascinating case study in how differently two playwrights and directors can interpret the same piece of work. We loved both - and on this particular, were blown away by what has very much become one of Scotland’s most famous and beloved narratives.