: J O E L M A S O N E T I

Rowena McIntosh gets the lowdown from legendary Scottish author Irvine Welsh on his trio of shows being staged at this year’s Fringe

I rvine Welsh is getting greedy. The Scottish author has three shows at this year’s Fringe: Performers, Creatives and Trainspotting Live. ‘You’ve got London in the 60s, Edinburgh in the 80s and Chicago in the present day,’ says Welsh. ‘That’s probably the three cities I’m most associated with, so no one can complain.’

long-time Performers, which makes its debut in Edinburgh, was written with Welsh’s collaborator, Dean Cavanagh. ‘Dean and I are always doing stuff together and he’s really obsessed with the story behind the i lm Performance.’

The pair previously wrote Babylon Heights, a debauched imagining about the actors playing Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. For this new script, they’ve taken inspiration from the cult 1970 Mick Jagger-starring i lm about a London gangster hiding out at a rock star’s house. ‘Performance is groundbreaking, one of the best British i lms of all time,’ argues Welsh.

Their play of

focuses on the recruitment two London gangsters for the i lm. ‘We wanted to see if we could capture that kind of old-school cockney vernacular.

It’s a shame that some of these local dialects are being lost. We wanted to do something that was old-school London,’ says Welsh. This is helped by the casting of ‘ultimate Londoners’ Perry Benson and George Russo. ‘Dean’s from Yorkshire and I’m from Scotland, so with the best will in the world, we can’t always get it absolutely authentic. But you’ve got Nick Moran directing it and Perry Benson and George Russo in these two parts, and it just gives it this extra dimension of authenticity.’

this Creatives, a musical about a Chicago songwriting class is also a collaboration, time with Don De Grazia. The piece started life as a i lm before Tom Mullen, who directed Trainspotting USA, came on board and they changed it from a creative writing class to a musician’s workshop. They’re a dysfunctional group and jealousies reach new levels when a pop star is invited back to judge a competition. ‘I know it’s a cliche about all plays being in constant development but this one really has to be, given the nature of it,’ admits Welsh. ‘We’ve also had to cut it down from 90 minutes to 75 for the festival slot,’

That’s a big kind of constraint in a way but it makes it a fun snappier version.’

‘The Creatives is set in the Chicago arts scene and has its UK premiere in Edinburgh. interesting thing that Chicago and Edinburgh have in common is that people do things there because they enjoy it. They aren’t necessarily wanting to be massively successful and be discovered. Edinburgh people who want that go to London, and Chicago people who want that go to New York or LA. You get people who are involved in the arts for the intrinsic love of it.’


Trainspotting adapted by Harry Gibson from Welsh’s iconic novel, returns to the Fringe following sold out runs in 2015 and 2016, and a world tour. ‘It feels like a contemporary play for this generation, rather than something I wrote about 1980s Edinburgh, and that’s down to their ingenuity and staging. I still can’t believe the energy they bring to that show.’

Edinburgh Festival’ in which the character of Renton memorably ends up i shing two opium suppositories out of a toilet. But Welsh likes the festival really. ‘I never used to but I do now. I used to be like a lot of locals: “it’s too expensive, cannae get served”. When I was young, we all loved coming into town from the scheme and trying to pull a girl in the festival. It’s nice to be chatting to somebody in a bar and they’re from the south of France or Nigeria, instead of Wester Hailes or Niddrie. I feel it has opened up the city in a lot of ways. It’s an essential part of what Edinburgh is about.’

Performers, Assembly Rooms, 5–27 Aug (not 14), 4.45pm, £14–£15 (£12–£13). Previews 3 & 4 Aug, £10.

Creatives, Pleasance Courtyard, 5–28 Aug (not 15, 22), 4pm, £11–£14.50 (£9.50–£13.50). Previews 2–4 Aug, £8.

Trainspotting Live is also one of the few Fringe shows with a venue all of its own, a tunnel under the EICC. Welsh’s Trainspotting has a chapter titled ‘The First Day of the Trainspotting Live, EICC, 4–27 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), 7.45pm, £17.50–£22.50. Previews 2 & 3 Aug, £10–£15.

3–10 Aug 2017 THE LIST FESTIVAL 103