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Riveting performances make Rebus play at the Cambridge Arts Theatre well worth seeing

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Popular Scottish detective, John Rebus - a star of page and screen - has been brought to the stage for the first time in Rebus: Long Shadows, on until Saturday (February 16).

Starring Ron Donachie, known primarily for his role as Ser Rodrik Cassel in Game of Thrones, as the retired, whisky-drinking detective, the play - written by Rebus creator Ian Rankin and playwright Rona Munro - is a dark, psychological piece that dramatically reopens an unsolved previous case.

Scottish actor Ron Donachie has played DI John Rebus in the BBC Radio 4 dramatisations of Rankin's Rebus novels, and is therefore perfectly cast as the witty and cantankerous detective, who is still driven to solve a murder case that took place 25 years previously.

Both physically and through his words and mannerisms, Donachie is entirely believable as the no-nonsense Rebus, some of his statements and wry observations being laugh-out-loud funny.

Rebus: Long Shadows
Rebus: Long Shadows

My first impression was that I didn't think much of the set. I know it was supposed to be bleak in order to create the darker underbelly of the tourist hotspot that is Edinburgh, but it did 'grow' on me as the play progressed, and it was probably the ideal backdrop for what was to transpire.

I was also expecting a more traditional detective story, although the fact that Rebus has aged in 'real time' since the first books came out in the late '80s added a new and interesting dimension: a retired detective haunted by his past and having somewhat lost his way in the present.

As it was not quite what I had been expecting, I was a little worried I might get bored, but the stunning performances certainly held my attention.

The suspense at times was incredibly tense - particularly the long, drawn-out scene between Donachie and 'Big Ger' Cafferty (expertly played by John Stahl) - and the sound effects really added to the sense of foreboding, occasionally making me jump out of my seat.

The way the victims haunted Rebus was brilliantly played and the talented Cathy Tyson as Rebus's former colleague in the force, Siobhan Clarke, is also worth a mention.

I very much enjoyed the play and it's made me want to revisit the character in his younger days.

Rebus: Long Shadows is on at the Arts Theatre until Saturday.

The play starts at 7.45pm, with a 2.30pm matinee tomorrow (Thursday) and Saturday.

Tickets: £20-£35

Box office: 01223 503333 or cambridgeartstheatre.com

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