Rebus: Long Shadows

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

Neil Cooper


ALL walls, if not cats, are grey throughout Rona Munro’s adaptation of a brand new Inspector Rebus yarn by Ian Rankin, putting flesh and blood on the misanthropic ex-detective’s travails through Edinburgh’s underbelly. An unplanned turn of events shortly into the second act sees Charles Lawson, playing Rebus with suitably crumpled swagger, taken ill. With the show halted, Neil McKinven, cast as assorted Edinburgh low-lifes, heroically steps up with script in hand to complete the show.

Up until that point, the plot twists of Munro and Rankin’s yarn saw Rebus haunted by the ghosts of unsolved murders past. These are embodied by Dani Heron and Eleanor House’s mini chorus of murdered young women who fell prey to the sort of men with enough power to bury them seemingly without trace. With Rebus’ former partner Siobhan Clarke now in charge, all roads lead to ‘Big Ger’ Cafferty, played with a touch of Charlie Endell Esquire menace by John Stahl. It is Cafferty who represents that part of Edinburgh society where wealth, privilege and criminality walk hand in glove with each other in a way that leaves people like Cafferty untouchable.

Munro’s script takes Rebus’ unreconstructed demeanour and has him dragged into the #MeToo age by Siobhan, played with steely integrity by Cathy Tyson. Robin Lefrevre’s production, initiated at Birmingham Rep, brings Rankin’s creation to life in a way that gives the Rebus fans what they want without shutting out newcomers.

Up until being taken ill, Lawson’s Rebus was a masterly study in hangdog righteousness. Picking up the mantle, even using a script McKinven grasps the lost dog vulnerability of the role in a rare star turn on home turf. The Herald wishes Lawson a speedy recovery, and hopes he will be back on the beat soon.