Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932
Registered Charity No. 294848
by Irvine Welsh
Cast & Crew
Mark Martin McCreadie
Franco/Mr MacKay/Mother Richard Jordan
Tommy/Simon (Sick Boy)/Drunk Benji Dotan
Alison/June/Lassie/Lizzie Gemma Knight
Johnny (Mother Superior)/Boy/Builder Rory Warwick
Director and Set Rob Kendall
Sound Ian Clarke
Lighting Rebecca Thorndale
Continuity Rob Bee
Publicity Photograph Hanna Grist
Publicity Rob Kendall
Front of House Masque members
Bar Management Playhouse Theatre
Martin McCreadie as Mark. Photo by Denise Jordan
Production No. 361
Rob Kendall, director
The novel Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh became a best seller in 1993 and was adapted for the stage by Welsh for The Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow, in 1995. As far as I am aware, Masque’s production will be the first amateur theatre performance of this play.
Set in Edinburgh amongst the everyday drug culture of the ‘estates’ it is very much a cultural blast to the Edinburgh Festival- tourist view of the city.
Welsh’s characters tell the visceral story of lives blighted by drug addiction; there are moments, however, of black comedy as Mark Renton, played by Martin McCreadie (last seen in Masque’s Best Italian Bits of the Bard) who tells us the story of those around him. Those who are to be feared, such as Begbee, played by Richard Jorden, and those who are to be pitied, such as Alison (Gemma Knight) who tries to balance her life as a young ‘mum’ with that of a ‘junkie’.
The narrative is further advanced with Ben Dotan, new to Masque in the Venetian Twins, as Tommy the only ‘clean’ character and Rory Warwick (new for this production) as the ‘Mother Superior’ of drugs.
This Edinburgh slice of life is at times gruesome, political, violent and funny and the cast are asked to create new characters, other than their title role, to point up the delicate balance from a challenging script.
The language of this modern piece reflects the nature of the generally drug-fuelled nature of the characters and may not be suitable for those under 16. The play will both inform and shock the audience but within the context of real lives evidenced by Welsh.
Even if you’ve seen the film version with Ewen McGregor as Renton the stage production is more succinct and powerful and well worth seeing.
Trainspotting is at a new venue for us, The Playhouse Theatre, Clare Street, though stage management ,technical and front of house staff will be Masque members.
14 - 18 October 2008
The Playhouse Theatre, Clare Street, Northampton
Page last updated: 15/02/2013 Masque Theatre © 2013
Pat Bancroft, Masque Theatre member
Love it or hate it, Trainspotting in all its mutations through book, film and play has certainly caused controversy over the years. Irvine Welsh's subject of young lives wasted by drug addiction in the underbelly of Edinburgh is one I personally hate, so it was with a dutiful feeling of 'director supporting director' I booked.
Not one to worry about obscenities on stage, even I disliked the gratuitous use of obscenities half way through the first act which, mixed with the excellent Edinburgh accents of most of the cast, made understanding the plot at that point very difficult.
If you have not read the play and had time to think about it, the abrupt ending also leaves the audience unsatisfied, but that said, what a difference a good cast and director can make to the enjoyment of a play.
Director Rob Kendall made the very best of the 'in your face' script moving the play along from black comedy to dark despair smoothly and inventively, giving the actors an evocatively filthy space to work with, which they used to good advantage. The graphic physicality of the cast produced gasps and murmurs from the (gratifyingly young) audience the night I attended.
However, the evening for me was made by the three leading performances. From the moment Martin McCreadie, playing junkie Mark Renton, crawled from his foetid blanket to tell his story, he held the stage with such intensity that I feared for his blood vessels during his withdrawal scene from junkie to 'Mr Clean', a truly arresting performance. His 'friend' Tommy's journey from non-user to user was physically well cast and intelligently and compulsively played by Ben Dotan. Masque stalwart Richard Jordan, playing three distinctly different parts the drunken loud mouthed Begbee, interviewer and Mum (lovely drag Richard), was on top form with his grotesquely sad depiction of Begbee's wasted life.
Playing the smaller part of the pitiful pregnant junkie Alison, Gemma Knight's graphic description of what she put into the meal of a boozy idiot, in revenge for his groping, while waiting on tables will stay with me for a long time; in fact I may never eat out again! Rory Warwick as Johnny, or in this Production 'the Mother Superior of Drugs', provided another memorable moment emerging onto stage in such a dazed drug ridden stupor that he looked as though he had been hit on the head with a shovel and was about to fall over.
The following night, I saw Frantic Assembly's excellent Othello at the Royal (two toilets on stage in one week!), again with an audience of young people shouting their appreciation at the curtain call, which made me even more sure that no forward-looking theatre group can exist without trying all types of theatre to survive.
There will be complaints about the Masque putting on Trainspotting I am sure, but if anyone thinking about taking drugs had watched this play it would surely put them off for ever. It was great to see so many young people both on stage and in the almost full house, which I understand carried on for the rest of the week.
We may not all want to see these plays, and let’s face it we have the write-ups in the newsletter to help us choose, but Rob and his cast should be congratulated for putting on this challenging piece of theatre so successfully.