Posts Tagged ‘ Trainspotting ’

T2 TRAINSPOTTING

T2 Trainspotting
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Admittedly I was initially nonplussed by the original Trainspotting feature due to being more impressed by the novel and preferring subsequent stage productions- particularly those at the Edinburgh Fringe over the last two years- but time has mellowed my original weary scepticism and I now wholly appreciate that it is a landmark film of its time; those are the very qualities which clouded my first impressions incidentally.
Anyway who could resist a film which boosted the careers of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed bringing them to the attention and subsequent prominence to a whole new generation?
This sequel, re-introducing the original characters from Irvine Welsh’s book, therefore has a lot to live up to and this is it does to some extent although it offers nothing new nor any clear insights into what returning to your past actually means.
Re-assembling the original cast of Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewan Bremner and Robert Carlyle as well as the superfluous addition of Kelly Mac Donald – whose scene is so incongruous it feels as if it is there simply for the sake of giving her a scene. Helmed once again by Danny Boyle this gives the film some additional kudos and a sense of the past merging with the present. However I felt now, as I did with the original production, that Ewan Mc Gregor is all out to sea with his performance and once again is the film’s weakest link.
However both Ewen Bremner as Spud and Robert Carlyle as Begbie are excellent in their roles and Jonny Lee Miller always has his charisma to help him through but the real star of the film is Edinburgh itself.
Never has the city looked so appealing on-screen and even in the more desperate scenes when the city’s underside is used to show its deprivation. It also helps having local characters such as Bradley Welsh in the role of a sauna owner cum gangster type and Garry Fraser as second unit director as well as a host of Edinburgh faces as extras giving the whole thing a local flavour. Even the much maligned trams make what must be their film debut.
The plot, for what it matters, revolves around Mark Renton’s ( Mc Gregor) return to Edinburgh and the people he ripped off for thousands twenty years before. The following action revolves around him setting up another scam and being pursued by an unforgiving Begbie who let’s say hasn’t let twenty years mellow his anger or his thirst for vengeance.
To anyone nostalgic for the thrills the original film provided at a time when ‘Cool Brittania’ ruled our pop culture and Trainspotting flew the Scottish flag high and proud then I would wholeheartedly recommend this film as it will awaken the lost youth of those days. On its own merits though T2 Trainspotting can hold its head high although the remix of Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life at the films dénouement is unnecessary; some things should be left as they are and need neither remixed nor a sequel!
One thing that irked me however was if the film is set twenty years on from the original film which was set in the mid eighties why was there such a proliferation of smart phones which were nowhere near as ubiquitous around 2005-2006 as they are in this film. Just a minor detail but a detail nonetheless!

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JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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So the last weekend of the Fringe/Festival is upon us already!
Somehow it feels like it is already over and for me personally I don’t feel that this year it ever really got started.
No doubt at sometime over the next few weeks some ‘official’ will use the media to report that it has been the busiest and most successful one yet when in fact this is so far from the truth. Granted more money may have changed hands- have you noticed the price of tickets for most shows? – But in most other ways this year’s Fringe has been far from successful.
The streets are as annoyingly busy as ever-perhaps even more so- and the traffic is so slow it is hard to differentiate between driving and being parked but there has still been nowhere as near as many people around the venues or even in them as there usually are. Mind you when shows are £10 upwards on average, a pint of lager is over a fiver and six pound is the going rate for a bacon roll-re-named pulled pork and served by a bearded hipster in denim tights (that’s just the girls by the way) so that makes it a bargain obviously- or even more for a burger then it is an expensive night out even if you are doing it on the cheap.
Of course the weather has not helped matters either. The Fringe in sunshine is a totally different beast to the Fringe in perpetual grey, drizzle, rain and wind and unfortunately this year these are what we have had for the most part. Getting wet queuing for shows then drinking warm beer in cold outdoor venues is not my idea of a good night out. Obviously the weather cannot be helped but it really does alter the whole experience.
What about the shows then?
The Fringe is supposed to be at the cutting edge of new talent with innovation and experimental ideas offering an insight into the next big happening thing. Or so we are led to believe.
However I have not seen much evidence of anything groundbreaking or innovative this year and several shows were ones I missed last year due to a busy schedule so were returning productions, admittedly with a tweak here and there, so hardly cutting edge.
Perhaps the fact that 2016 has been such a pivotal year in cultural change –the deaths of Bowie, Prince and Muhammad Ali amongst others then there is the little matter of Brexit here and the rise of Trump across the Atlantic- means that real life has afforded us more incredible drama than anything the theatre could produce and as such has been rendered almost redundant. Life no longer simply imitates art it would seem it now dictates it.
Also things have moved at such a swift pace this last eight months that capturing anything topical has proved harder than usual. Who needs to go to the Fringe for thought-provoking drama when the news requires you to suspend your belief almost on a daily basis?
As for the shows which have stood out for me and worth catching over this last weekend, well there is Trainspotting at Assembly, The Club at The Gilded Balloon, Boris:World King at The Pleasance Growing Pains and Cut at Underbelly all on until Monday whilst Anohni’s one off live performance of one of the year’s best albums, Hopelessness, at the Playhouse ranks as one of the best and most modern live music shows I have seen in years and possibly the most memorable show of the last month.
So this time next week the streets will be clear, the traffic returned to normal and as habit dictates the sun will probably have returned. There will of course still be plenty to complain about though as Parliament returns soon with our new unelected Prime Minister and whatever schemes she has cooked up for us over her summer vacation. I imagine soon we will be wishing the Fringe back to at least distract us from how bad things are likely to get!

TRAINSPOTTING

Trainspotting
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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.

TRAINSPOTTING

Trainspotting
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This high-octane, immersive and no holds barred adaptation brings Irvine Welsh’s defining novel Trainspotting back to its home city of Edinburgh. Stripped of its more familiar cinematic sheen it is a gutsy, highly visceral production from the aptly named In Your Face Theatre group who more than live up to their moniker from the outset.
Starting with a rave scene complete with glow sticks and fluorescent arm bands the action is pretty full on from the start. The familiar characters are all there: Sick Boy, Allie, Spud, Tommy, Begbie and a tour de force performance from Gavin Ross as Renton. Never holding back whether it is shit smeared sheets and bodies or full on nudity, this show is definitely not one for the faint hearted.
More compelling than the film version the squalid surroundings-a specially constructed venue- captures the desperation which defines the protagonists and their various habits. Familiar scenes are still there however including the speed induced interview and let us not forget the retrieval of an opium suppository from the world’s filthiest toilet bowl which is even more disgusting without the film version’s Brian Eno ambient track to sweeten the pill.
The cast are all extremely confident and weave in and out of the audience popping up and even exchanging insults whenever and wherever you least expect them to. It is like some beautiful form of chaos at some points.
Definitely a major player at this year’s Fringe Trainspotting is hard to beat in its sheer verve, adrenaline and chutzpah. Irvine Welsh would be more than proud with what they have done here!
*****
Trainspotting is on at 6.00 and 8.30 August 14-17, 19-24, 26-31