Archive for August 11th, 2016

TRAINSPOTTING

Trainspotting
2015TRAINSP_AST
Here for their second Fringe outing, their 300th performance to be totally precise, are the very aptly nameD In Your Face Theatre company with their hands on, fast paced and no holds barred –what is a hold anyway?- adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting.
Gavin Ross excels as Renton in a performance which goes beyond mere acting and totally inhabits his role as the main character, Renton. The rest of the cast is no less impressive –some of them play several roles and seem to reappear in a different guise seconds after leaving the stage in a previous incarnation-making this a true ensemble production and success!
There is a bit of Trainspotting fever around the capital at the moment anyway as the original cast and director Danny Boyle have only just very recently left the city after filming the sequel at various city locations. It has been no surprise to see the likes of Ewan McGregor or Johnny Lee Miller hanging around The Omni Centre or the Central Bar in Leith so the return of this exciting and high-octane adaptation- by far my personal favourite beating the film version hands down- could not be better timed.
Opening with a frantic rave scene-complete with audience adorned in glowstick armbands- the atmosphere is ramped up to eleven before a word of dialogue is even uttered. The dialogue when it comes is coarse, brash, crude, antagonizing and thoroughly entertaining. The cast weave in and out the audience terrifying some, horrifying others but never ever boring any of them. It is a confrontational performance which never allows the audience’s attention to wander.
At times the pace seamlessly slows down a little but it is no less compelling. The sheer melancholy and sadness that lies at the heart of any junkie becomes apparent and the tragedy that lies at the heart of it all –an essential component of Welsh’s book- exposes itself from behind all the macho braggadocio which dominates the stance of the male characters the bulk of the time.
An essential must see at this year’s Fringe –it is already selling out in advance fast so I recommend booking tickets as soon as possible- you really don’t want to be the one to say you missed out.
*****
Trainspotting is at Assembly Underground at 18.00 and 20.30 until August 29th(not 16th and 23rd). Due to popular demand some late night dates have been added. Check at Box Office for details.

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MY LEONARD COHEN

My Leonard Cohen
714000

My Leonard Cohen is exactly what it says in its title; a collection of Cohen favourites delivered in interesting new musical settings. Much as I love the stripped back simplicity of Cohen’s original versions it would be pointless to try to replicate the hushed intimacy of his recordings as much as it would have been pointless for Jimi Hendrix to cover Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’ with acoustic guitars and harmonicas.
Different interpretations are necessary otherwise the whole project could descend very quickly into cheap karaoke or more correctly, considering the price of a Fringe ticket these days, expensive karaoke.
To this end Stewart D’Arrietta and his band provide drastically different re-imaginings of some of the great man’s greatest songs. Gruffer and more impassioned than Cohen’s languid deep tones D’Arrietta’s vocals , at times reminiscent of Joe Cocker, are well suited to the more expansive arrangements.
Starting with an upbeat Everybody Knows followed in swift succession by Famous Blue Raincoat, Tower of Song, Bird on a Wire- prefaced with a touching acknowledgment to the song’s subject matter and muse of several Cohen songs Marianne Ihlen who passed away only last week- Suzanne, Dance me to the End of Love, Chelsea Hotel No.2 which regurgitated the old tale of the infamous blowjob as performed by Janis Joplin before an up beat and sing-along to one of Cohen’s greatest songs- probably my personal favourite- and yet another inspired by Ilhen , So Long Marianne which actually made me want to ‘Laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again’.
For me this was the highlight and anything after was never going to live up to this but Ain’t No Cure for Love made a valiant attempt as did everything else that followed.
One thing that became clear to anyone who hadn’t already realised was that Cohen was and remains one of the greatest lyricists in modern music but also that his songs which seem to be quite simple actually are big enough to take on bigger arrangements with added parts for emphasis without losing any of their simplicity.
Although this show is in no way groundbreaking it is still thoroughly impressive. Great performances and great songs and of course that version of So Long Marianne!
****
My Leonard Cohen is on at Assembly Hall at 18.15 until August 28th (not 16th)

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