Trainspotting @ The Leadmill Thu 29 June – Sat 1 July

Whilst seminal 90s film Trainspotting was revisited earlier this year to great acclaim, a group of actors have been busy bringing the characters alive in a spectacularly brutal theatrical production of the original.

We spoke to the founder of In Yer Face Theatre, Greg Esplin, who also plays Tommy, ahead of its three-night run at The Leadmill from Thursday 29 June to Saturday 1 July.

How did you get involved in the production?
I started the company, In Yer Face Theatre, back in 2012 and it was the third show we decided to do in November 2013. It’s just grown arms and legs since then. Back then it was still very experimental and we were doing it every six months at festivals or whenever we had the money to do it, before we then got producers involved.

It’s an immersive piece set in unusual venues. How difficult is that aspect of the production?
We started the company because we’d always wanted to do immersive theatre. At the start it was very much a promenade rather than a theatre-in-the-round piece. It was just a bit mad. We tried to put too many things in it. We were doing the show thinking, ‘This is bloody mental’. What we’ve got now is an immersive piece, but it doesn’t lose the story. It’s not immersive for the sake of just shocking people.

What’s your favourite bit of the show?
I love the look on people’s faces when they walk in. They just walk into this space and there’s a rave going on. There’s haze and the strobes are on, it’s pitch black and people are like, ‘Holy shit!’

There’s a few bits that are quite close to the bone. There’s a scene where Begbie kicks his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach and there’s usually at least one pregnant person in the audience. That’s always quite hard to watch. I’ve seen it over 600 times now and that bit still gives you that feeling like, ‘Oh God, are we OK to do this?’ But it is relevant to the piece.

I guess you attract a lot of people who don’t normally go to the theatre?
Yeah, I think that’s probably the best thing about it. It attracts everybody. It attracts people who say they hate theatre or who’ve never been. It also gets traditional theatre-goers really interested in what’s going on. People who would be normal patrons to your space will be like, ‘Why the hell have they taken all the seats out?’ It’s good because you get people coming along who say, ‘My dad hates theatre and I bought him tickets to your show and it’s the best thing he’s ever seen!’ It gets young and old people engaged.

How long will the show keep going?
That’s the million dollar question. There’s a lot of life in it yet. I think there will come a time when the actors move on and new people, fresh blood, will come in. We’ve all done about 630 performances of it now. We absolutely love it, but there will come a time when we will move on and the show will carry on, whilst In Yer Face Theatre will do other things.

The cast must have grown close over the 600 or so performances. Are you thinking that you will do something together in the future?
Definitely. When we started out, most of the people here had worked with the company before. One of the most important things that does keep this show going is the fact that it’s got such a strong ensemble. Because it’s a really risky piece, it can be quite dangerous. When you’re working so close to the audience, you really have to trust the actors on stage. I’d put a bet on it that we’ll definitely be working with each other again.

Have there been any moments where things have got out of hand?
There’s been a few! There was the time in Edinburgh where one of the guys in the audience got too invested. It’s what we want. It’s brilliant. He tried to punch Sick Boy.

The good thing is we’ve got security. We always have a couple of stewards so we don’t have to stop the show, although we stopped one on Monday because somebody fainted. We’ve had loads of fainters before. Someone normally gets them out, gets them a glass of water and they’re fine, but this one was like, ‘Oh, this guy’s not getting back up,’ so our stage manager stepped in for the first time along with about five other stewards, but the guy was fine so we got him back in and we started again.

The element of improvisation must be something that you love as an actor?
It’s amazing. That’s probably one of the main reasons we’re all still here. Even if the show’s just 5% different, it means you can’t just go in and say your lines because you know them all now.

It keeps us on our toes, which is good. It’s only fair for the audience because every time you go on you have to remind yourself that this is the first time they’ve ever seen it. The fact is things can change, the audience can shout, you don’t know what they’re going to do. It keeps you on your toes massively.

Wayne Hoyle
Trainspotting comes to The Leadmill on Thursday 29 June until Saturday 1st July. Tickets are priced at £15.



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