Edinburgh Lyceum's Mark Thomson discusses Dark Road, the first play by Ian Rankin

Edinburgh Lyceum's Mark Thomson discusses Dark Road, the first play by Ian Rankin

The Rebus author has crafted a shady serial killer story for the stage

Artistic director of the Edinburgh Lyceum and co-writer of Dark Road, Mark Thomson recognises that there is something natural in the theatre’s collaboration with Ian Rankin, a crime writer who has become part of Edinburgh’s cultural landscape.

Dark Road is Rankin’s first play, but inhabits the shady territory of his famous novels: a Chief Constable, played by Maureen Beattie, revisits the conviction of a serial killer while her daughter has developed her own relationship with the killer. Thomson recognises that the stage has lacked this kind of crime drama, and it brings its own challenges. ‘The genre is so popular in TV,’ he muses. ‘You get violence in Mamet and Pinter, but it is not quite the same!’

There is also the challenge of retaining the unique tension of the crime story. ‘A lot of what we have been doing is preserving those juicy, fun doubts that readers, or audiences, enjoy about the genre,’ he says. ‘Crime relies on doubt and ambiguity and throwing out the odd red herring!’

Undeniably, presenting Rankin’s first play is a coup for the Lyceum, and Thomson promises that the production will ‘maintain his position as one of the extraordinary Scots living and working in Scotland today’.

Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 25 Sep–Sat 19 Oct.

Dark Road

Ian Rankin's début stage play, co-written and directed by Mark Thomson. The conviction of an incarcerated serial killer is questioned, 25 years later, by a police officer who helped put him away. Ages 14+.