REVIEW: Rebus: Long Shadows at Cambridge Arts Theatre, a gripping, gritty drama

PUBLISHED: 23:26 11 February 2019 | UPDATED: 23:26 11 February 2019

Ron Donachie and Eleanor House in Rebus at Cambridge Arts Theatre

Ron Donachie and Eleanor House in Rebus at Cambridge Arts Theatre

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Rebus: Long Shadows, is a gritty drama about a retired detective determined to find the killer of a teenage girl.

The difficulty is that it's a cold case. It's been 17 years since the murder. He doesn't even know if the killer is still alive.

Rebus: Long Shadows, is a gritty drama about a retired detective determined to find the killer of a teenage girl.

The difficulty is that it’s a cold case. It’s been 17 years since the murder. He doesn’t even know if the killer is still alive.

This is the first dramatisation of an Ian Rankin novel about the Edinburgh detective John Rebus. It’s been adapted by Rona Munro and has a strong cast who gave gripping performances with style and humour.

The play opens when Rebus (Ron Donachie) finds a young woman sitting on the stairs outside his flat. He soon establishes that she is called Heather and she is 17, the same age her mother was when she was murdered - on her first night out after having baby Heather.

The girl is singing along to her mother’s favourite pop song it’s a “heritage” she says. She’s been brought up by her granny and she has grown up tough.

Both Heather and her mother, Maggie are played adroitly by Eleanor House. You feel the cocky teenager Heather’s masked pain. We have met kids like her.

Rebus, who was not involved with the murder inquiry at the time, decides after meeting the daughter that he will take it up now.

Meanwhile, his detective colleague, Siobhan Clarke (Cathy Tyson) is finally - after 25 years and new DNA evidence - bringing to court the killer of another teenager. Angela, the victim, was aged 16 on her first Friday night out.

The man suspected of killing her and two other young girls is a plumber whose van was near each murder scene. But at the time, the police could not get the evidence for a conviction.

There are powerful performances here. Dani Heron is moving as the fragile Angela, tricked into going into the dark with her killer, John Stahl as Cafferty, a crooked developer you suspect has buried several inconvenient people in his concrete, is properly menancing. And plaudits to Neil McKinven for playing five parts.

Somehow, the cases of Maggie and Angela are linked. The dead girls haunt and taunt Rebus for the police failure to give them justice.

It is all cleverly resolved in the end. There is a twist in the tale and an ending which ties up the lose threads but leaves room for a sequel.

Rebus: Long Shadows is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 16.

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