The story of Rebus: Long Shadows unfolds following a chance encounter with a young girl on his tenement stairs, the wounds of two unsolved cases of murdered girls open up in Rebus' mind, leading to encounters with old colleague Siobhan Clarke, and recurring nemesis 'Big Ger' Cafferty.
John Stahl meanwhile gives an even better performance as Cafferty, viciousness dealt in an almost friendly nature, he towers over everyone else with ease, in both size and indeed power, as he observes Edinburgh from up high in his apartment. It a tremendously strong performance delivered with panache.
Neil McKinven though gives excellent support, depicting five characters throughout the play, making them all so believable that at times I thought there was an actor I had missed in the programme. Superb work.
The set also fails to adapt to the Royal stage as well, clearly designed for bigger venues, a few areas of the original blocking from director Robin Lefevre are hidden from side sections of the audience, especially in Rebus' flat when activity by his filing cabinets disappears from view of one side of the audience. Lefevre also has a habit of long sequence of limited movement, including the first meet between Rebus and Clarke, a very long scene, filled with a lot of exposition, and lacking in drive, and some overly long segments with actors with their back to the audience. Also for a while, the whole play fails to prove to its audience that it is a stage play, with this easily feeling like a TV episode in itself with the camera barely needing to move.
Rebus: Long Shadows is always entertaining and keeps interest, although the plot is very much a sideshow to the characters created. Munro's script from Rankin's original does enough to bring an audience unfamiliar with the world of Rebus into it without becoming too much of a frantic crash course, however, I do suspect that fans already of Rebus, in either form, will gain the most from this opportunity to see those familiar characters upon the stage. Entertaining, but never more than a slightly joining the dots production.
Entertaining, but generally just a joining of the dots production.
Performance reviewed: Monday 5th November 2018 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton.
Photos: Robert Day