Tuesday August 22nd 2017

“Trainspotting USA”

Drugs are a serious problem in this country! I am sure that the rest of the world feels the same way.Irvine Welsh’s “Trainspotting USA”, now onstage at Theater WIT is an Americanized adaptation of his novel “Trainspotting” about a group of young addicts in Scotland which has now been moved to Kansas City Missouri. The film which, a 1996 release has been ranked in the top 100 British films of “all time” . The first adaptation from film to stage was done by Harry Gibson and toured the UK for many years. There are some who call this a “cult” film, one that teenagers should be forced to see, so they can learn from the experiences of these hopeless young people who turn to drugs as their only way of coping with life.

This dark and graphic story is directed by Tom Mullen, who selected the Midwest as the perfect place to reassign these characters and for this production Welsh has added material specific to the United States. The story centers around Mark ( a powerful performance by Shane Kenyon) who has decided that he is ready to give up heroin, which would take him away from his pack of friends. His one friend Tommy ( deftly handled by Jay Cullen) who is not a “user”, while this is going on, decides he needs to know what he has been missing and gets drawn in to the “life”. For  ninety minutes ( no intermission) we are witness to the problems with trying to withdrawal including a scene involving having to dig into a toilet, a pick-up scene between Mark and a sexy young lady ( Jenny Lamb, who plays all the female parts and truly shows her versatility, and a lot more) who it turns out is only 14, and an assortment of situations that are very graphic in showing the mental being of those who are in drug related lifestyles.

This is a very dark play and should not be viewed by those who don’t like the subject matter, foul language or nudity, as there is quite a bit of that. As a story, it gets its point out there but I am not sure that it hits hard enough. The fact that there have been sequels written to the original novel taking these characters on to another level makes it understandable that the play does not really end for all the characters. The ending has our “hero”( if one can call  Mark a hero) running out on his friends and leaving Kansas City with a bunch of money that in fact was to be shared with his buddies. He does put some in an envelope which it appears he mails off to Diane ( his friend who has lost a baby to an unexplained death, although Crib Death is stated) to help her deal with all of her friends now being gone.  Tommy, the clean cut friend is now deep into heroin and he has become what Mark was. I cannot give you all the gory details as it would ruin the story for those of you who might want to attend.

The overall production is well choreographed as the actors do the set changes, very creatively designed by Dan Conley. The lighting (Jennifer Kules) is very mood setting and the use of strobe makes for some exciting moments on stage. Zach Thostesen handles the sound with some wonderful incidental music and the costumes by  Bill Morey are very fitting. Landon Meier’s mask are very creative but hard to really see and Barbara Trinh does a great job assembling the vast array of props. Beau Forbes did the fight choreography, but no program credit was given for the accuracy of the drug regime ( I only hope that none of these solid actors knew any of this prior to rehearsals. The other cast members are Rian Jairell as Simon, Cameron Johnson  as Spud and Thad Anzur as Begbie ( and a host of others) They  were all solid and of course, Jenny Lamb truly showed her stuff playing all the female roles.

This production will continue at Theater Wit located at 1229 West Belmont through December 2nd with performances as follows:

Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 7 and 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m.

There will be an added performance on Wednesday,November 21st ( when your students come home for Thanksgiving) and no performance on Thanksgiving.

On Sunday, December 2nd the performance will be at 3 p.m. instead of the usual 5 p.m.

Tickets are $32.50 ( open seating) and cana be purchased at the box office,by phone at 773-975-8150 or online at www.theaterwit.org

Valet parking is availbale and some non metered street parking is available. Don’t forget, Cooper’s accross the street for a dinner and free parking

for more info on the play, visit www.TrainspottingUSA.com or visit my home page, click on to Theatre in Chicago, go to review round-up and click “Trainspotting USA”


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