Irvine Welsh's sensibility is a wee bit on the dark side. His novel Trainspotting, about a group of junkies, has a scene in which a baby dies at a party. In his novel Filth a tapeworm inhabits the bowel of the protagonist (the subplot concerns the tapeworm's love life).
You'll Have Had Your Hole concerns two hoodlums, Docksey and Jinks (Mac Brydon and Ian Pfister), who kidnap a colleague, Dex (Zack Calhoon) and torture him in a recording studio (chosen for its soundproofing qualities). Their initial motives are murky, but it turns out that Docksey believes that Dex betrayed him to the authorities, leading to a few years in jail, and he gets Jinks to go along with the scheme. While Docksey visits Dex's girlfriend, Laney (Thea McCartan), eventually getting it on with her, Jinks strikes up a relationship with Dex (well, he rapes him, if that counts as a relationship). Docksey prepares to kill Dex with two syringes: one to sedate him and one to stop his heart. He mistakenly gives Dex the fatal one first. Jinks, on discovering the death scene, disables Docksey with the sedative syringe and hangs him from the same chains that had held Dex. And so play continues as the curtain falls.
The key to this production, in addition to such lighthearted fluff as the scene in which Docksey accidentally swallows Laney's contact lenses and then offers to search his feces for them, was the energy of Brydon and Pfister. As two crooks on speed they were literally bouncing off the walls; the staff should have distributed sedatives with the programs just so the audience could sit and watch in peace. In addition to their lightning pacing, these actors seemed to have mastered the Scots dialect (Brydon actually graduated from the Scottish Academy of Music and Drama).that drenches all of Welsh's writings. Calhoun and McCartan, on the other hand, showed less energy and variety. McCartan often couldn't be heard clearly, even in the intimate space. (Sound designer Ann Warren made a frenetic melange of rock music and created tapes of Dex's angry shouts.)
And what a weird space! A former club (the Rubber Monkey), it had a raised stage with banquettes downstage facing the audience, with an iron railing (complete with the club's initials) separating the center banquette from the stage. Dex was hung upstage center; there was a projection screen down left, and Laney's room was suggested up right (set design WT McRae). The stage was underlit (Scott Davis), which worked most but not all of the time. (The house lights consisted of four uncomfortable floodlights aimed directly at the audience from upstage.)
Costumes (uncredited) showed Laney's transition from slob to sex object, as well as including eye-catching tartan slacks with a multitude of zippers for Jinks and basic black for Docksey. Dex's makeup could have reflected a little more violence, as suggested on the pre-show sound effects.
Whether the story adds up to much is up for debate. Welsh's black humor doesn't match, say, Orton's, and the story, despite the reversal, doesn't show much of a dramatic arc or explore the characters in any depth. There is also much persiflage while Docksey and Jinks try to convince Dex of their reasons for maltreating him, none of which make much sense and which are red herrings anyway. This is not efficient dramaturgy.
All in all, though, the Welsh cognoscenti seemed to have a good time.
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Copyright 2004 John Chatterton