Rebus: Long Shadows at the Theatre Royal Nottingham Review

22-27 October 2018

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Reviewed by Louise Edwards

You are promised an evening of incredible acting from a truly talented cast if you are fortunate enough to get a ticket for Rebus: Long Shadows performing this week at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal.

The play has been written by novelist Ian Rankin, who created and wrote over 20 novels featuring the Rebus character when he was a working detective, adapted by playwright, Rona Munro and directed by Robin Lefevre.

Like the novels the play is set in Edinburgh where John Rebus (played magnificently by Charles Lawson, best known as Jim Macdonald in Coronation Street) is now retired. There is a chance meeting with a girl, Heather, in the early hours on a stairwell near his flat as he warns her of the dangers of being out late at night reveals his identity as a retired detective. She asks him to find out about the murder of her mother, Maggie, killed when Heather was just a baby, 20 years ago. It is a cold case he remembers though wasn’t working on. The actress, Eleanor House, plays the characters of both Heather and her deceased mother, Maggie superbly.

DI Siobhan Clarke, played by the phenomenal Cathy Tyson of Band of Gold fame, has an important case coming to trial of another historic murder case of a girl called Angela, played by Dani Heron, and she needs reassurance from Rebus that there were no police sets ups in the original case. Advances in forensic technology have enabled the police to open up this previously unsolved case and has shed new light on existing evidence.

Long held secrets are exposed and Rebus finds himself caught up in a battle of wills with old adversary, Big Ger Cafferty, played by Game of Throne’s star John Stahl. The language is raw and alcohol is flowing as we see the tension building to a finale of twists and turns that no one sees coming.

The writing is superb, nothing less than you would expect from a master craftsman such as Rankin, and the production almost Shakespearean in its drama. Backing up the incredible cast is Neil McKiven, who plays several minor characters wonderfully and seamlessly.

The stage, designed by Ti Green, is incredible as it shifts from being an office, apartment, stairwell, forensic office, nightclub and city centre penthouse apartment to name a few locations the fast-paced drama takes us. The actors themselves shift the props around between scenes. This is complimented by clever lighting by Chahine Yavroyan and Simon Bond, that creates atmospheric ghostly appearances of victims taunting at Rebus’ conscience and music by composer Garth McConaghie, adds to suspense and sends goosebumps running down your spine.

Fans of crime drama are guaranteed to be swept away into this very cleverly written and mesmerising play. It is brilliant to see actors such as Lawson, Tyson and Stahl playing such different characters to the ones they are popular for on TV and it is also fascinating how they have created their own characters from those portrayed on the Rebus TV drama. Grab your ticket whilst you can!

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £15 to £35.50 (booking fees may apply).

Rebus: Long Shadows is at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham from 22-27 October 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.

Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND

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