This week in Theater
Adaptation by Harry Gibson
Reviewed by Rose Densena
Rodger Mathey (Director) rocks the stage with his comeback production of Trainspotting. It is a bleak but brutally honest look at the wasted existence of four men, who have nothing to live for other than their next high. Their lives are consumed with buying drugs, doing drugs or exploring the residual effects of a life that is so empty and so damaged that the only way they can survive is to hide behind what they consider reality: being high. Even if not getting high then its meaningless sex or petty crime. Their self-esteem and self-motivation are destroyed either by poverty, a bad home life, or society’s limitations.
It’s hard times in this working class Scottish town and Mark (Justin Zachary), Sick Boy (Jonathan Roumie), Tommy (David Agranov), and Begbie (Matt Tully) move us through this gut wrenching story without the burdens of censorship, allowing the audience to visualize and feel every painful moment of their sad young lives. Mathey pours the story onto the stage as if it is liquid performance art; every detail is taken into consideration. It is intentionally raw and offensive, and at times so free it’s comical. The characters skillfully show us their sadness, weaknesses and vulnerabilities so searingly it is as if they were transparent dolls.
Each one of these four men as well as their female mate, Alison, (Allison Walter) shows their ecstasy as they affectionately inject one another with their favorite juice: heroin. Allison’s expression is so real I wondered what was really in the needles they used on stage. Her persona was instantly and completely altered and consumed by the drug. The empathy on their faces during the sex scenes and the total disregard or respect for themselves as humans aroused overwhelming revulsion in me. The hollow elation, the temporary fix, strips the characters of all dignity.
Justin alternates between narrating and existing in the moment as a character, an effective device that the actor pulls off spectacularly without taking the audience out of the play.
The directing choices were risky. I admired his guts as well as the daring commitment he brought out of a very talented cast.
It’s not all dark; Tommy is quite endearing and gets some good chuckles out of the audience. Within the first 3 minutes of the play, Mark has a few scenes that you have to laugh at or you would most likely walk out. All of the directional choices were necessary to convey the strong social message of this production.
This brilliant piece of work is as relevant to our time as it was in the 90’s when the film came out. The use of 19 actors rather than the way the play was originally written added more depth and allowed for more elaboration. Also it gave a larger perceptive on the how many lives are enticed and victimized by the fantasy of this worthless lifestyle. I couldn’t help but think of all the talented lives that were lost to the demons that plague so many. Like the music stars of the 60’s and 70’s and most recently Amy Winehouse who openly admitted life was not worth living without her drugs and alcohol. To her they were life.
This production is full of profanity and explicit graphic acts that are meant to offend, but it’s purposeful as it draws the audience in, making you uncomfortable yet you’re glued to your seat in awe as if you’re hypnotized by the actions. It will stick to your soul and make you think as all good theater should.
I can only say that this is a brilliant piece of work, please do not let the hardness of it deter you. It’s worth every minute of the two hours plus you are there.
Put this on you must see list its. If you are not familiar with the small LA theater scene this will make a believer out of you. This is pretty much as good as it gets for a drama. I want to go back and see it again if I can get a seat. It closes April 13th and I am sure it will sell out so don’t procrastinate.
GO SEE THIS, it’s truly a work of art, extended by popular demand until June 1st.
Adapted: by Harry Gibson
Novel by Irvine Welsh
Directed: by Roger Mathey
Cast: David Agranov, Katie Aquino, Sam Bangs, Sarah Allyn Bauer, Martin George Berishaj, AJ Jones, Elizabeth Knowelden, Libby Letlow,Michael Lutheran, Francesca Manzi, Travis McHenry, Martin J. Riddell, Jonathan Roumie, Katy Townsend, Matthew Tully, Karl Wade, Alison Walter, Ben Wilson, Justin Zachary
6322 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90038