Rebus – Long Shadows, Birmingham 4****: Rod Dungate

Birmingham and Tour

Rebus – Long Shadows: Novel Ian Rankin, Adapted by Rona Munro


Birmingham Rep Theatre: The House, and on Tour

Runs: 2h 15m, one interval; Birmingham Rep till 6 October

Bham Rep BO: 0121 236 4455

Review: Rod Dungate, 25 September 2018



Strong stuff, totally absorbing

The great thing about this accomplished adaptation is the way playwright Rona Munro and the rest of the team have managed to transfer Rankin’s atmosphere into the acting space. It is this brooding atmosphere that creates, from an absorbing tale, a compelling one. Rankin’s detective genre lends a forward narrative tension to the event, but this underspin’s the themes. To the fore is a forensic examination of moral values, changing times, concepts of truth and knowledge; in front of us these vie with each other to see which will survive and which will succumb. Nothing seems to come out of this well; sometimes we see acts of kindness only to learn these are done with ulterior motives.

Director Robin Lefebvre has pared everything back – acting, movement, set, score, lighting; he sets before us only this engrossing examination and some superb characterisations.

Charles Lawson grabs our attention and never lets his grip falter. The troubled detective could fall into cliché, but not in Lawson’s hands. He totally convinces as a policeman destroyed by his endeavours to achieve the right ends in a world that seems not to allow it. Cathy Tyson is fascinating as we watch her dangerously teetering on the edge of making the same mistakes as her brilliant mentor, Rebus. And John Stahl is truly chilling as the gangster ‘Big Ger.’ Cafferty.

Ti Green’s sparse setting expertly evokes Edinburgh tenements. Garth McConachie’s remarkable score and soundscape punctuate the drama and deftly weave the jig-saw parts together giving a sense of pace to what is a leisurely unfolding. But how time flies when watching it.

Thrilling realism wrapped up as a thriller.

Charles Lawson: John Rebus

Cathy Tyson: Siobhan Clarke

John Stahl: ‘Big Ger.’ Cafferty

Neil McKinven: Mordaunt / Andy

Dani Heron: Angel

Eleanor House: Heather / Maggie

Director: Robin Lefevre

Designer: Ti Green

Lighting Designer: Chahine Yavroyan, Simon Bond

Composer / Sound Designer: Garth McConaghie

Assistant Director: Madeleine Kludje

Fight Director: Alison de Burgh

Casting Director: Ginny Schiler CDG


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