Heroin for laughs

Category: Trainspotting Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: July 27, 1996 | Publication: The Irish Times | Author: VICTORIA WHITE
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Trainspotting, Galway Arts Festival

Take your best orgasm, I multiply it by a thousand and you're still nowhere near it." That's how Irvine Welsh's character Renton describes the pleasure of heroin, and the words ricochet from Trainspotting, the book, through John Hodge's film script, and now through Harry Gibson's adaptation of the work for the stage, which had its Irish premiere on Monday night at the Town Hall Theatre, Galway.

Welsh spares us none of the horrific details of heroin addiction either, but what is so refreshing about his work is its honest depiction of a widespread lifestyle, previously hidden behind the grim faces of Health Board videos. So as we all know, Trainspotting is a cult hit, and anything with that magic title on it even an ice skating extravaganza would bring in the crowds. Harry Gibson's adaptation for Jacket Productions necessarily pulls a narrative structure from the episodic book, as did the film script.

This puts a false shape on shapeless lives, but, while alienation still results from the film, a theatrical audience identifies with the actors before them and resolves to enjoy itself. To bring on the old alienation effect, a radical, experimental approach would have to have been taken to create a simply tragic effect, a carefully made tragic structure would have to have been welded together.

Instead the excellent actors Gerard Butler, Tom Walker, Cameron Jack and Glenna Morrison in a striking set by Suzanne Field, like a huge wire clothes horse against a grey background dig through toilet bowls, mainline, find a dead baby, and their rich Scottish dialect is laughed at throughout. When the play ended, the audience clapped and went away saying things like. "Are you going for a pint?" Ah no, I'll just shoot up, ha, ha," an effect which sent this critic away feeling sick and should seriously worry director Harry Gibson.

Trainspotting runs at the Cork Opera House all next week. The Production returns to Ireland in the Autumn to play at the Dublin Theatre Festival and the Belfast Festival at Queens.

Copyright 1996 The Irish Times