Trainspotting at the Vaults TheatreCultureTheatre
Adam Spreadbury-Maher’s cutting-edge wild ride, Trainspotting at the Vaults Theatre, is like nothing that has ever been seen before. Adapted by Harry Gibson from the novel by Irvine Welsh, this raucous, raw piece has theatregoers wondering what the hell is going on, until, like a rushing train, its true meaning hits with emotional, poignant climactic impact.
The surprise begins as the theatre doors open: the setting is a night club in full swing with dancers and pounding music. Continuing for about 30 minutes as viewers watch, this display could make one wonder if they’re in the right show. Finally, audience members are confronted with a series of maniacal rants and misbehaviour from the players, beginning with an amazingly disgusting “toilet scene” and a naked man cavorting about the spectators. Thereafter, obscenity-punctuated monologue and dialogue, mutual sparring and the taunting and assaulting of viewers creates, in the latter, a stunned and confused sense of intrigue. The realisation unfolds that theatregoers are witnessing a down-to-earth depiction of what drug addiction really is: a sickness that turns people into crazed lunatics who are completely out there, debased to the extreme – irresponsible, unpredictable, irrational and violent.
As a voyage into the dark world of heroin junkies, nothing is held back – from desperate shooting up and painful yet orgasmic release, to the revolting manifestations of the drug’s effects, such as losing all control of bodily functions and reacting to everything with incoherent and vicious behaviour.
Behind the insanity is philosophical revelation, as what gradually surfaces is the humanity behind addiction’s demons; it is explained that people become junkies because they “crave silence” and because they can’t cope with life’s disappointments and the concept of death. That “the junkie doesn’t give a sh*t about anyone else” is clear, and yet there is hope – somewhere inside an addict there is still some humanity, shown here in the characters’ grief over a deceased child and for a friend who has overdosed and died.
The writing and directing of Trainspotting are phenomenal, and the effects are powerful, particularly the blaring of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb to blindingly flickering light as the players jostle about, recreating an element of what a heroin high might be like – a kind of psychedelic chaos. The actors are superb, skillful and daringly free in their portrayal of crazed druggies. As unsettling as this work is, it should be seen.
Photo: Geraint Lewis
Trainspotting is at the Vaults Theatre from 3rd November 2016 until 15th January 2017, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Trainspotting here: