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Trainspotting Live will be an 'immersive' experience for Belfast audience

Trainspotting Live will be arriving at the MAC, Belfast later this month bringing the fast-paced hedonistic story of a group of Scottish friends who are living through the Edinburgh heroin scene.

The book was groundbreaking, and the film was iconic, but the live production's co-director Adam Spreadbury-Maher believes the play gives audiences something completely different, while staying true to the source material.

Q. What can audiences expect from this production, especially if they have read the book or watched the film?

The play was created after the novel and it was because of the success of the play that it was turned into a film.

So what you can expect is something that's really true to (writer) Irvine Welsh's work with a take on it that's about engaging the audience.

We will be taking them on the journey that the character's go on from the great beginnings, parties, and experimenting with drugs to when things get out of hand, addiction takes it's toll and the human cost that people have to pay.

Q. Do you think it is more of a challenge portraying these issues live on stage?

You get something different from reading a novel to seeing a film, and with the play I guess it is difficult to portray it on stage because you have to bear in mind that there is going to be people in the audience who have certain experiences, or you have lost loved ones to drugs.

So you need to kind of keep that in check. But you also have to be true to the work, and we go there, we definitely go there.

People have been quite shocked, because we try to make it as visceral and as immediate as possible and I am working with a really great cast of actors who are able to render the story, during a process where we have met with former heroin users and they have taught us a lot of logistics.

Q. Have you toned down any of the more extreme aspects of the story for the play?

Not at all. The fact that it is live hasn't change that.

With the film you are safe, you are in your living room or watching it on your laptop, it is frozen in time, it was made 21 years ago.

Whereas with the play, we are doing it right there in front of you and if the audience weren't there we wouldn't do it. So there's a sense of implicitness really.

Also, with the way we are staging it, because it's an immersive production, the audience are part of the show. They become characters, they become part of the set. Without them it wouldn't happen.

It's a much more kind of electric way to experience it.

Q. What sort of reaction have you received about the production in the past?

Audiences really seem to get it, and really get into it.

They really understand and be really freed up by such a different alternative way of experiencing theatre.

The critical reviews have also been really encouraging.

Irvine Welsh has been to see it a couple of times and he has been really positive about it. It was quite nerve wrecking having him in the audience but he is such a lovely man and he stuck around afterwards and took all the actors out for dinner. It was a really lovely experience for everyone, he is a real hero for many of them.

They are all Scottish actors and he represents a lot of great things about Scotland as a strong, artistic, unique voice.

Q. What can you tell us about the cast for this production?

The cast are a troupe of actors from a company called In Your Face Theatre that are based in Edinburgh.

They all know each other from their childhood and they are kind of a self taught group of actor, not many of them have had any formal training and they have performed this show over 600 times together.

So there is a real sense of unity and development among them and there's also a real comradery, they are almost like a little family.

They are very brave, fearless actors.

Q. Is there a bit of pressure to get the production right, considering the success of Trainspotting the novel and film?

We are really grateful that the film and the novel made a mass audience know about it, but this is a completely different take on Trainspotting.

So we are actually taking all the great stuff that you know about Trainspotting - the language and the characters - but we are doing something new with it. So it was either going to really, really work, or not work at all.

It has worked, which we are really grateful for because it is completely different. And that's one of the great complements that Irvine Welsh gave us when he said that if you want to experience Trainspotting today, go and see this production.

That's a wonderful bit of feedback to have.

Q. Finally, are you looking forward to bringing the play to Belfast?

It's going to be my debut in Northern Ireland, and we are all very excited, and it is really nice that we are able to share the play with a new country.

Plus our stage manager is from Belfast, so that will be nice for her to see the show perform in her city.

  • Trainspotting Live runs at the MAC, Belfast from May 24-27.

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