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Lawson challenged to play Rebus in new Rankin play

Published: 14 September 2018

Experienced actor Charlie Lawson is facing the most difficult challenge of his career when he plays legendary detective Inspector John Rebus in the world première of Rebus: Long Shadows.

Author Ian Rankin has teamed up with playwright Rona Munro to write a new story and bring Rebus to the stage for the first time. It starts a tour at Birmingham REP.

Lawson, best known for depicting Jim McDonald in Coronation Street, said, “it’s the most challenging role I’ve taken on in 38 years. It’s enormous: 109 pages and 108 of them are me. The challenge for me is the length and the size of the piece.”

Lawson, who has never performed in a thriller before, said the offer to play Rebus was one he couldn’t refuse.

“Parts like this come along once in a blue moon. Sometimes it’s really good to challenge yourself.”

Rankin said, “I've long wanted to see John Rebus on a theatre stage, and it was such a privilege to work with Rona Munro in fashioning a new story that could best be told 'in the flesh'.

“Having lived with Rebus for more than 30 years, I know he’s cast many long shadows, but this time those same shadows threaten to engulf him in a story that’s tense, gripping, deep and thoughtful. I hope audiences will agree.”

Munro added, “adapting one of the most iconic characters in detective fiction was both daunting and exhilarating. It was a collaborative process that completely depended on Ian Rankin’s generosity in sharing the man he made and knows so well.”

The cast of Rebus: Long Shadows includes John Stahl as Rebus’s nemesis Big Ger Cafferty, Cathy Tyson as DI Siobhan Clarke, Dani Heron as Angela, Eleanor House as Heather / Maggie and Neil McKinven as Mordaunt.

Robin Lefevre directs. Design is by Ti Green, with lighting design by Chahine Yavroyan and Simon Bond. Composer is Garth McConaghie and fight director is Alison de Burgh.

Rebus: Long Shadows runs at Birmingham REP from Thursday 20 September until Saturday 6 October. It then tours to King’s Theatre Edinburgh, Malvern Theatres, Theatre Royal Nottingham, Manchester Opera House, Royal and Derngate Northampton, His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen and Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford until 24 November.

Steve Orme