Literary success catapulted writer Damian Barr into a life of champagne, air kisses and loved up stability. It’s a million miles from his chaotic childhood in North Lanarkshire where the local community (and swathes of Scotland) were sustained through the miners strike by the steelworks at Ravenscraig. But when he’s commissioned to write his memoir, the book that eventually become Maggie & Me, Barr’s brought up short against a world he’d rather forget.

Ten years on from publication, Barr and playwright James Ley have whisked the memoir into a frothily boisterous, and ultimately heart-wrenching, adaptation for the National Theatre of Scotland. An insightful window into growing up gay in a bullishly heteronormative, down at heel town.

The play opens with adult Damian (Gary Lamont), flamboyantly sure of his place in the world, celebrating the promised publication of his memoir. But first he has to write it – and in so doing, he’s forced to try and make sense of his story. With perfect poetic licence, his boyhood self (Sam Angell) emerges from the freezer and ushers in an almost cartoonish sequence of scenes that shaped and scarred the man. His disappointed mother (Nicola Jo Cully), her brutish boyfriends, persistently nasty pupils, and lifeline friends (Joanne Thomson and Grant McIntyre) careen and carouse across the stage. Margaret Thatcher (Beth Marshall) strides amongst them, a peculiar quasi-mother figure, clutching her handbag, flourishing Section 28.

There are many gloriously theatrical moments. Damian’s dad’s new girlfriend, a karaoke country and western queen, belts out ‘Stand By Your Man’, even as as she turns his son from their front door. The set is stuffed with TVs, alternating authentic film footage with camp horror, accenting the flashbacks. The interval is set to a soundtrack of eerily majestic eighties pop, served up on an organ. In this performance, BSL interpreters Sarah Forrester and Amy Cheskin are thrillingly embedded into the action.

Director Suba Das presents the story with slick panache worthy of Barr’s beloved TV show, Dynasty. The cast seem to be having a ball throughout the two hours and forty minutes of flashbacks, frustration, and moments of blood-curdling cruelty. But the tsunami of ebullient antics sometimes threatens to drown the grinding hate and sordid violence of Barr’s younger years. It’s great fun and – makes for great theatre – but for the generations of people who see themselves in Barr’s story, his quest to find himself could be given a little more room to breathe.