‘IT’S shite being Scottish ... Some people hate the English. I don’t ... They’re just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonised by wankers ... It’s a shite state of affairs to be in and all the fresh air in the world won’t make any f****** difference.”

Said by anti-hero Renton to raging balloon Begbie in the long-closed Leith train station, those Irvine Welsh lines may not be swaggering as the “choose life” monologue, but they’re arguably more central to his 1993 depiction of heroin addiction in the late 1980s port. Perhaps they’re too near the knuckle, too true to Scotland’s morose shadow-self. A decade before, Scotland officially, at least, rejected home rule. Thirty five years later, the people of this country rejected an opportunity to govern themselves like any other nation. Maybe we were just too wee, too poor, too stupid, too, well... shite. Or were we, to paraphrase the title of Carol Craig’s key exploration of Scotland’s malaise, suffering a near-terminal crisis of confidence.

Despite the subject matter – which led to Danny Boyle’s 1996 film being shown at Cannes out of competition, Trainspotting helped change that. Here was that rare thing – a genuinely new voice. Rippingly acerbic and black as pitch, it was as sharply subversive as its visceral stench.

It was honest too: heroin may take you to places so abject and humiliating they destroy an addict’s former self, but it can also make you feel so amazing that there is nothing else of consequence except how you will pay for your next hit.

“There are no friends here, just associates” is a line repeated here in Gareth Nicholls’s revival of Harry Gibson’s 1994 stage play. Written for and performed in the small Stalls Studio of Glasgow Citizens Theatre, the original production featured Ewen Bremner as Renton, here played with electrified gusto by Lorn Macdonald.

To take on such a production takes courage; to both recognise and subvert expectation takes skill; qualities here in thankful evidence.

With input from his young cast and excellent production team, Nicholls’ objectives were to use the bigger space of the Citz’ main stage to its full advantage and to exploit theatrical conventions to convey the experience of drug addiction.

Designer’s Max Jones and Philip Gladwell took the work of Francis Bacon as their main inspiration, the harsh fluorescence of daily reality recalling the monochrome portraits of Bacon in his chaotic studio, the uterine red of his nightmarish paintings backdropping the altered states of opiate bliss and grotesque cold turkey. There are at least four definite visual “wow” moments here, with images and segues as memorable as those from Boyle’s film.

Still, perhaps there could have been a little more subversion. What became known as “in your face” theatre did not have a female voice until the then-ridiculed work of Sarah Kane a few years later. Though Welsh’s book imparted more life to female characters and rendered schoolgirl Diane as the most sussed of all his characters, the acrid monologue of Alison (Chloe-Anne Taylor) is excellent but the exception – elsewhere she is actually speechless as Sickboy’s moll or as wailing, grief-stricken mother.

Contemporary references are wisely minimal, and the time lapse is only noted in the opening scene when Renton boasts to Spud (Gavin Jon Wright) about signing on in five different towns and cities – something surely long impossible now. Twenty or so years ago we had similar fashions and were similarly weary of... the Tories. But then, if you applied yourself and kept your head down, you were in with a better chance of a good job. You might get the opportunity to choose life. Now? It’s time for this generation to tell us themselves.

Until Saturday 8 October, Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, 7.30pm (mats 2.30pm, 24 Sep, 1 & 8 Oct), £9.50 to £22.50, concs from £2. Tel: 0141 429 0022.