Dark Road (4.5*)

2013-09-26Ruth’s review:

Dark Road is an original new play, set in Edinburgh, from Ian Rankin and Mark Thomson.

The plot focuses on Isobel, Scotland’s first Chief Superintendent, as she revisits the case of a serial killer that she worked on as a young police officer 25 years earlier.

The husband and I like to watch police dramas on the TV, but it is so unusual to see a police drama on stage – so that was a nice change.  As always at the Lyceum this play was buoyed by great acting, and as always it was so well staged.  The set was magnificent and was occasionally supplemented with projections which worked really well.  The use of music was subtle but generated a lot of tension, in fact I think rarely have I been to such a tense play.  People in the audience screamed.  Which, actually, was scarier than the play itself.

I enjoyed the story a lot, there was a good deal of character development and the plot was twisty and interesting.  If anything I think the plot was overly complicated for the production, as the other elements came together to make it sufficiently exciting and captivating without the need for excessive detail.  If anything, the slightly superfluous detail led me to overthinking as I watched which detracted from the tension, but the plot could have progressed without some of it.

I’d say overall this play was brilliant and with a bit of tweaking it could be exceptional.

Ian’s 4.5* Review

I absolutely loved this.  Tense.  Exciting.  Dark.  Funny.  Captivating.  It’s wonderful to see the “police drama” genre on stage, and the plot is classic Rankin, delighting in the gruesome and twisted mind of the criminal and in blurring the lines between good and bad, right and wrong.  The staging is brilliant too, I love the concept and the execution.  It gives the piece a feel of being bigger than it actually is – somehow more cinematic.

This is very close to being a 5* review, but falls just short as it didn’t feel completely coherent.  It started off feeling quite character-centric, but that then got a little lost in the middle which was totally plot-driven with just a few moments of character focus which were slightly disconcerting.  Then the ending (surprising, dark, twisted and brilliant as it is) went back to being more character based.  I liked the twisty nature of the experience, but for me it felt slightly like a longer work that had been cut down based on “favourite scenes” rather than “coherent audience experience”.  That would be easily fixed I suspect.

A brilliant first play from Ian Rankin – get your tickets now before they sell out!


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