One of Scotland’s most famous exports, renowned for its gritty rawness and 90s fever dream appeal, Trainspotting was adapted for an almost completely sold out run on the DramSoc stage. Starring Dramsoc veteran Hugh Carr as the lead role of Mark Renton, each cast member perfectly executed the unfortunate situation their characters found themselves in. Attendees were immediately immersed in their world; the minute you walk in, the rave begins, as cast members jump around the room to loud techno music, pulling audience members in to join them. The show itself was an immersive experience to the end. The audience mainly sat around the stage, with the characters often addressing various members directly. The feeling was of living the storyline with the characters, present for the innumerable lows they encountered, and rooting for them to extract themselves from the heroin-induced hell they found themselves in.
“There were no distractions from the raw realness; it was impossible to tear your eyes from the emptiness, both physically and mentally”
Trainspotting was Orlagh McDonald’s directorial debut for DramSoc, and she adapted Irvine Welsh’s novel for the DramSoc stage with ease. The set design, comprising simply of a dirty mattress and vile looking toilet, for that iconic scene, perfectly set the tone for the grimy lives of the Scottish drug addicts. In fact, the almost bare stage brought the play to life even more than a packed background could have. The barrenness of it was especially highlighted in the aforementioned toilet scene, in which Renton has to dive through a crap-filled toilet with his bare hands to fish out the opium suppositories he had just deposited in it. There were no distractions from the raw realness; it was impossible to tear your eyes from the emptiness, both physically and mentally.
Carr was supported in the cast by Connor Dee as Sickboy, Odin O’Sullivan as Begbie, Fiachra Corkery as Tommy, Adele Crilly as Alison ,along with Sadhbh Whitty and Lorcan Kelly as the various other characters including Mother Superior and Laura. Each one put their own spin on their iconic roles, while retaining the original spark, and all executed the thick Edinburgh accent with seeming ease.
A particular scene of note was the scene in which Alison discovers that her baby, Dawn, has died of an apparent cot death. Difficult to watch in the original film, the barren stage and incredibly believable performances of the cast made it even tougher to endure while watching live.
“Difficult to watch in the original film, the barren stage and incredibly believable performances of the cast made it even tougher to endure while watching live”
At no point was the constant drug use glamorised or made it seem in any way something to aspire to. With Hugh Carr’s PSA at the end, advising us all to avail of the phone numbers on our programmes, or pass them on to someone who may need them, it was clear that DramSoc were trying to avoid any accusations of glorifying the lifestyles of the story’s characters, difficult to imagine if one had actually watched the play.
All in all, the performance was slick, without losing that rawness that originally made it special. With thoroughly believable performances and expert staging, the play was a risk worth taking for DramSoc.
Trainspotting ran from the 11th to the 15th of February at UCD DramSoc Theatre. It will also be making its way to ISDA with DramSoc.