Trainspotting is Nude, Rude and Crude–but You’ll Love It


Reviewed March 10, 2013

In 2002, Roger Mathey shook up the L.A. theater scene with his daring and ballsy production of Irvine Welsh’s “Trainspotting.” The play went on to win a host of awards and was picked by the Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Tonight as one of the best of the year.

Mathey has revised the04 Tommy (AJ Jones) and Mark (Justin Zachary)-1 production for 2013, and it is as gritty and in-your-face as the original.  If you are looking for nude, rude and crude, this is the play to see.  Despite that, “Trainspotting” may also break your heart as these sad lives unravel before your eyes..

The staging here is crisper than the production I had the pleasure to see back in 2002.  This version feels tighter and darker.  There is truly never a dull moment and the Elephant Theatre feels like a great venue for this show.  Where ever you sit, you can practically smell the stench of these pathetic shit stained, heroin addicted characters, and  yet, you can’t help but feel some empathy for them.

Mathey rotates the cast with a Friday/Saturday group and a different set of actors on Sundays.  Justin Zachary, who was  the lead in the 2002 production and received a “newcomer of the year” nomination is back as the lovable loser, “Mark Renton.” He is your02 Mother Superior (Travis McHenry) helps Mark (Justin Zachary) to shoot up-1 narrator and guide through this brutal world and he manages to be both wide eyed innocent and at times cold, calculating and heartless.

Zachary does a lot of the heavy lifting in this production and is the only cast member to appear all three night.

Last Sunday’s performance boasted a fine turn from AJ Jones as “Tommy” who alternates the role with David Agranov, one of the 2002 originals and now a producer of the play. Karl Wade and Francesca Manzi were in fine form as “Mrs. and Mrs. Houston” and a variety of other roles.  Katie Aquino, Travis McHenry and Sam Bangs were all  outstanding as “Gail Houston,” “Mother Superior” and “Laura McEwen” respectively.

The Scottish accents in the play are thick and often hard to follow but the meaning and the intention is never lost.  Just in-case, there is a glossary in the program to help navigate the slang.

The cigarette smoke on stage can get a little thick, especially if you are sitting close, but that discomfort (if you’re not a smoker) only helps to augment the grungy feces, urine and vomit laced environment you have just found yourself in.

“I woke up in aTrainspotting-cropped-med strange bed, in a strange room” indeed.  “Trainspotting 2013” is not to be missed.

Don’t bring the kids.

Fridays @ 8 pm: March 15, 22, 29; April 5, 12
Saturdays @ 8 pm: March 16, 23, 30; April 6, 13
Sundays @ 2 pm: March 17, 24, 31; April 7

Elephant Theatre
6322 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90038
(1½ blocks west of Vine).
323-960-7785 or