Author Irvine Welsh has already pondered what might have happened to the characters of Trainspotting ten years on, in his own sequel Porno. This hasn’t stopped Tell Tale Theatre devising original new piece Users, which intriguingly intersperses flashback scenes from the well-known film (or rather, Harry Gibson’s stage adaptation) with the company’s own imagining of where they would be further down the line.
Users takes place over the wedding day of Mark Renton’s daughter. As fresh-faced, innocent Jenny (Kelly Cromby) prepares to marry sweet-but-gormless Simon (Dan Pendleton), the old gang’s dark days of heroin abuse seem far behind them, until a few familiar faces take their place in church…
The walk up the aisle is fun, as cast mingle with the audience making their way up to the stage. Tell Tale’s 1984 was the first theatre production I saw in the Kazimier last year, and the company has again broken new ground bringing a full length play to the Picket. Best of all, again it works, with little to mark Users out as a voluntary, community piece. Its quality design, lighting, sound and a great soundtrack is all used to good effect, especially for party scenes.
Meera Bala was spot-on as world-weary Alison, and Sean Roberts convinced as Renton, both in flashbacks to his youth (the play begins with the memorable, if disgusting, toilet scene), and as an older, responsible dad.
There was some imaginative casting, most obviously when the audience clocked that Begbie was indeed played by a girl. The drawn-on goatee didn’t detract from the fact Sophie O’Shea’s performance was a winner, as she relished the menace that dripped from every drawn out syllable of the character’s thick Edinburgh accent.
It’s not the only liberty they take with the psychotic Begbie, and the decision to have him turn up to the wedding with a boyfriend was an eyebrow-raiser, but isn’t quite explained enough to work.
Users ran at 90 minutes with no interval, and sometimes it seemed as if there was simply too much to cram into that time for it to really pack the punch it was attempting. Although the familiarity of the flashback scenes were enjoyable (knowing them practically word-for-word), with characters doubling up from the wedding set-up, it was hard to figure out at first what was going on, and the stage seemed a bit too busy at times.
But overall this was an enjoyable, ambitious and inventive production that again showcased the huge potential of all involved in Tell Tale Theatre.