Trainspotting – A Review

The stage is set with only scaffolding and the rest enveloped in black, the music is booming
and we all know what to expect as Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life bursts from the speakers and the
four bodies dance and flail themselves across the stage in the same kind of youthful ecstasy
that can only mean you’re about to watch Trainspotting.

As Renton, arguably the protagonist, Shane O’Regan bears an uncanny resemblance to Ewan
McGregor’s rendition in the 1996 film adaptation, from the moment he starts speaking it’s as
if we’ve stepped into mid-90’s Edinburgh to take up where Irvine Welsh left off. O’Regan is
joined by an ensemble cast who each play several different characters that some up the life in
spirit of Edinburgh as Welsh saw it.

The whole affair is loud and brash, completely in keeping with the spirit of both the original
novel and film. This joint production between Verdant and Reality:Check Productions has
take visual cues from the film, which normally would seem somewhat lacking in imagination,
but in this case serves the audience, as these are characters we already know and have seen
before, especially with the release of T2 (the sequel to the original Trainspotting film) last
year. Gratefully, there are also fantastic nuggets of comedy that deviate from the film. We are
treated to a variety of brilliant monologues within the performance; an opening sequence
about shitting the bed, another from a weary waitress who plans to poison her customers’
food with her blood and faeces, a concerned mother, an imaginary scientist.

It can be said that this particular production does not put too heavy an emphasis on what
might be the central theme of the film and book: heroin addiction. This show is much more
focused on people and their lives, leaving addicts, Renton, Sickboy and Tommy stranded on
the periphery but never quite becoming the central topic or problem to be solved.

Not that any of this matters. The audience that arrived this evening did not do so to have their
heartstrings tugged at. This show is in the spirit of a riot, the four actors working together
with each flail of a limb and screech from the back of the throat. They dangle from the
scaffolding, gnaw into the audience the tales of their debauched lives and how they would
never change. For all the noise, all the jeering, cursing, sexual innuendo and lewd gestures,
they audience got what they came for.

Trainspottting is playing at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin until May 12th 2018.


Review by Aisling Flynn

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