rebus mal

Charles Lawson as Rebus with his nemasis, crime lord Cafferty played by John Stahl

Rebus: Long Shadows

Malvern Theatres


Actor Charles Lawson is better known as Coronation Street character Jim McDonald, who has made a recent return to the soap of late.

But as a sideline, he’s taking a turn as renowned Scottish detective Rebus during this UK theatre tour of an exclusive new story for stage penned by author Ian Rankin.

This specially created case sees an ageing Rebus haunted (literally) by the ghosts of two teenage murder victims as he reopens a cold case during his retirement.

Lawson is a fine Rebus, at ease with transforming his normal Irish accent for a realistic Scottish lilt. He’s got the rough edged, weathered air of a man who breaks the rules and chases down any leads, now with a limp from age and a dodgy knee.

Opposite him is a beguiling adversary in the form of gangster Cafferty, played by a very watchable John Stahl. The pair’s scenes together have the main chemistry of the play - witty, edgy and often a mental chess game.

Award-winning actress Cathy Tyson, who made her name in the film Mona Lisa many moons ago, stars as Rebus’ former sidekick Siobhan Clarke but seems out of kilter in the role. She comes across as stiff, unnatural and at odds with the character. Tyson has become renowned for more emotive characters and she seems miscast for this part.

Producer Daniel Schumann and playwright Rona Munro have done their best to make the most of this gentle and interesting crime drama but it lacks the momentum and crescendo seen in stronger murder plays. In comparison, a number of Peter James’ books have been turned into riveting stage adaptations featuring his detective Roy Grace.

That said, avid fans of Rebus will be intrigued to see him in a different format.

It’s forte is a particularly funny script with some great one-liners throughout, often by Rebus. It may not live up to the TV series or novels, but it still makes for an entertaining show. To 20-10-18

Alison Brinkworth


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