In February 2013, Alan McKendrick edged us into an encounter with the late Alexander Trocchi through (some of the) pages of his last novel, Cain's Book. That first two-hours of live performance was like a masterclass on how to make provocative, entertaining and illuminating theatre on less than half-a-shoestring - the said shoe-string being incorporated into Colin O'Hara's resourceful designs. I doubt if the budget has expanded much since then. But McKendrick's obstinate, visionary commitment to the project is undaunted: this further instalment, again flying the flag of Stewart Laing's Untitled Projects, saw two hours stretch into three, with the pungent addition of a blasting-thrashing live set from avant-rock group Smack Wizards, and a cunningly-crafted, black and white film of children as the drug-taking adult characters voiced (on tape) by Stephanie Viola - having a little lad, in the same houndstooth sweater worn by the on-stage narrators who are all Joe, was just one of those details that murmur of McKendrick's flair and thoroughness.
The footage itself, like the re-iterated 'I'm gonna kick it' sequence where the escalating amount of unpaid rent begs to differ with that statement, had the perfect pitch of Trocchi's own junkie episodes. Awareness heightened - needle-sharp, evocative - yet zoned out, as deadpan as the girly dancers who boogaloo with unblinking gaze or as gently shifting as Joe's scow moored in New York's docklands. Recast - Ian Hanmore replaces Graham F Valentine, but with Lou Prendergast and Ross Mann still on-side - the initial work-in-progress has some tweaks, as well as new sections, but the inherent dynamic continues to be revelatory, celebratory, graphic and inspirational. Even so - four hours? A durational installation? There has to be more chapters.