Rebus: Long Shadows

Rebus_Cathy Tyson as Siobhan Clarke & Charles Lawson as Rebus_c Robert Day (2)

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reviewed by Matt Forrest

After appearing in 19 novels, numerous audio books, and a TV series, it seems long overdue for writer Ian Rankin’s most celebrated creation, Inspector Rebus to make it to the stage, and boy was it worth the wait.

Rankin and playwright Rona Munro have created a brand new case for the now retired Rebus (Charles Lawson). He spends his time trying to stay off the ‘fags and the booze’, but one drug he still cannot shake is that of good, old-fashioned policing. A chance encounter with Heather (Eleanor House), a young woman whose mother was murdered some 17 years ago brings up some ghosts of the past, forcing the ‘old gunslinger’ out of retirement and maybe a chance to exorcise some of his own personal demons as well.

Haunted by these past victims, this particular cold case takes Rebus back into Edinburgh’s criminal world, landing at the door of his old nemesis, crime kingpin ‘Big Ger’ Cafferty (John Stahl). In addition, Rebus must contend with Siobhan Clarke (Cathy Tyson), a friend and former colleague who wants to make sure a case from 25 years ago doesn’t come back to haunt them both.

Rebus_John Stahl as Cafferty_C Robert Day

Rebus: Long Shadows  is almost the perfect storm of a production, fast paced, slick, and razor-sharp script with some stinging, pitch black dialogue. Lawson is excellent as the no nonsense troubled former detective, who will do anything to get the right result, even if it means breaking the rules. Stahl is on superb form as Cafferty, full of charm and menace; he certainly makes for a worthy adversary. The interactions between the two are natural and fully demonstrate the respect and loathing they have for one another.

Cathy Tyson is equally as good, if somewhat underutilized as Siobhan Clarke: her character seems the weakest in the triangular relationship between Rebus, Clarke and Cafferty. The supporting cast are on fine form with Eleanor House and Dani Heron as the ghosts of Rebus’s past plaguing him at every turn: whilst Neil McKinven morphs into every other character, from Barman to criminal low life, he plays them all: enjoyable are the scenes between Mckinven and Lawson, where Rebus is shaking him down for information: authentic, believable and filled with humour.

Rebus_Cathy Tyson as Siobhan Clarke & Charles Lawson as Rebus_c Robert Day

Occasionally the story becomes a little contrived, but there are a few neat twists and turns: this isn’t a ‘whodunnit’ in the traditional sense, more a tale of redemption, morality, and growing old in an ever-changing world.

Ti Green’s multi-purpose stage design is outstanding: it changes effortlessly from luxury apartment, to dingy back street boozer. It does a fine job of evoking images of Edinburgh’s snickets and passageways: if anything, you want it to be more dank, mysterious and atmospheric.

This is a first-class production with actors at the top of the game: Rebus may be long in the tooth, but this production could certainly teach other murder/mysteries a thing or two.

Rebus: Long Shadow is at the Manchester Opera House till 3rd November 2018. Tickets are available here.

Rehearsal for Murder

bkl-rehmurd-0042a

From the writers of Murder, She Wrote, Richard Levinson and William Link and produced by Bill Kenwright, Rehearsal for Murder arrives at the Opera House for a week long run. With an all-star cast the show is a well-acted and entertaining whodunnit that will have you scratching your head and realising what a dreadful Detective you’d make!

With numerous plot twists and a good dollop of red herrings Rehearsal for Murder creates suspense and intrigue along the way. Alex Ferns most famously known for playing psychotic Trevor in Eastenders plays Alex Dennison, a writer who exactly one year ago on opening night tragically lost his future bride and leading lady of his new play, Monica Wells, Susie Amy. Monica dies in suspicious circumstances after the opening night party following a mysterious phone call. Convinced she was in fact murdered Alex sets the scene to replay events of that night with all who were involved in order to discover what really happened.

bkl-rehmurd-0940a

Set inside an empty theatre the play uses a series of flashbacks to retell the story to great effect; the cast give strong performances with Ferns delivering delightfully unhinged grieving fiancé to great effect. Anita Harris makes for a fine theatre producer, in the role of Bella Lamb, dramatic, sassy and fabulous darling! Former Emmerdale favourite Peter Amory gives a great performance as David Mathews, a slightly seedy leading man….or so we are lead to believe. And of course where there is a leading lady there has to be a fame hungry starlet waiting in the wings, Sophie Powels plays Monica’s understudy Karen Daniels, could the opportunity of seeing her name in lights lead her to commit the crime?

Lighting designer Douglas Kuhrt has done a fine job in adding to the mysterious atmosphere and chillingly lights our deceased leading lady as she appears silently on stage reminding us why we’re here. Rehearsal for Murder is a gentle evening of murder mystery and as the suspense intensifies the calibre of the cast can be seen, a very well-acted and enjoyable production. So…..whodunnit? Well you’ll have to go and see it to find out!

Tuesday 11th October-Saturday 15th October, Opera House, Manchester

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/rehearsal-for-murder/opera-house-manchester/