Writer: Harry Gibson
Director: Tracy Ryan
Reviewer: David Doyle
When it was published in 1993, Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting caused a stir. Based around a group of friends in Edinburgh battling heroin addiction and the effects of that, the novel elicited plaudits and revulsion. The subsequent stage adaptation by Harry Gibson brought the material to new audiences and recent revivals in London and Edinburgh show that the show continues to touch audiences who experience it.
The show is an episodic look at the ever-fracturing lives of a group of friends, largely centering on Mark Renton. The fractured narrative in many ways mimics the source novel, and while at times it feels slightly disjointed, it also manages to capture the often-manic lives of the characters. Sprawling across the several levels of the Boy’s School director Tracy Ryan makes incredibly good use of the space that quickly morphs into the multi-leveled streets of Edinburgh.
The show’s greatest strength is in the acting. Shane O’Regan as Renton, Lórcan Strain as Tommy and Sickboy, Fionn Foley as Begby, and Meg Healy as Alison all deliver stellar performances and manage to create characters with depth rather than superficial caricatures, which could so easily have been the case. Foley’s Begby is captivating. Healy’s Alison is heartbreaking. Strain shows a wonderful range in his portrayal of both Tommy and Sickboy, and delivers some deeply moving moments that close out the piece. O’Regan’s Renton is at the heart of the play and his performance is explosive. With supreme charm and a dash of despair O’Regan commands both the space and the audience’s attention.
With a preponderance of wonderful acting on display there’s much to admire about the show. Certain moments of the script, however, feel out-of-place and some wandering accents occasionally distract but these moments are always brief and the action soon gets back on course.
Reality:Check Productions has managed to deliver a truly heartbreaking piece of theatre laced with humour throughout. It’s a difficult piece to put on stage and the company has done so with aplomb. Trainspotting a well-crafted piece with some striking performances at its heart and it delivers an explosive story that is impactful today as ever.
Runs until 13 February 2016 | Image: Tom Maher