Detective Inspector John Rebus is a Betamax man in a VHS world. He rails against the closure of the pub and the opening of fancy restaurants, the growth of streaming, and the death of vinyl, the growth in mobile phones and the death of the land line.
He is at the end of a career, haunted by two unsolved murders, and the ghosts of the girls he thinks he let down. He is helped by loyal partner Siobhan Clarke and is reunited with long term nemesis Big Ger Cafferty in a new story written by Rebus’s creator Ian Rankin and adapted for the stage by Rona Munro.
Rebus is here played by Charles Lawson from Coronation Street, while Clarke is played by Cathy Tyson and John Stahl plays the imposing Cafferty.
Both Rebus and Cafferty are old lions, fighting over a patch of Edinburgh history that only they really remember.
The stage is simple, set in Edinburgh’s streets, Rebus’s flat, and other places. With a flight of stairs providing settings for the more powerful scenes, while the flat is seen as both a place of refuge and drama.
Rebus is a big man with big appetites, and although he has a strong moral compass, he has little time for rules, or for authority, and his impulses are kept in by Clarke to a great degree.
Although many theatres-goers will already be familiar with the characters, there is enough for newcomers to Rankin’s work to enjoy here.
Elements of Rebus’s conscience, of the two unsolved murders are linked to events happening presently, and as Rebus and Cafferty realise how much they have in common, how they are really only separated by the thin blue line of the law.
The acting in the play is of a uniformly high standard. The soundscape of music, which ranges from Peter Frampton to Scottish folk and dischordant jazz, adds a lot to an atmosphere where violence, and thuggery are never really far away.