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Edinburgh Royal Lyceum to premiere Ian Rankin play

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The first play by crime novelist Ian Rankin and a new examination of the union of England and Scotland, in the year of the Scottish independence referendum, are the highlights of the Royal Lyceum Edinburgh’s 2013/14 season.

The seven-play season contains four world premieres. Chris Hannon has written a new adaptation of Crime and Punishment and David Haig’s Pressure is held over from the current season.

Launching the season, Lyceum artistic director Mark Thomson said: “It is interesting doing a season at the point where, again, we are being asked to articulate our value and worth in economic terms – alongside the fact that we have got a referendum on Scottish independence coming up.

“At the heart of it are three big new Scottish plays. I would love to say that I have architected that ahead of the independence referendum, but it doesn’t happen like that. These plays have risen up right now because of where we are in our history.”

The season opens with Rankin’s Dark Road, a collaboration with Thomson, which sees the crime writer create a lead female character for the first time. Maureen Beattie will take the role and the Wales Millennium Centre will then take the production on a UK tour in 2014.

Rankin told The Stage: “I have done two radio plays, set in 18th century Edinburgh, and I did a libretto for a 15-minute opera for Scottish Opera. When I did the opera I was working with composer Craig Armstrong. The first story I gave him was similar to this play.

“It is a family psychodrama – I don’t know whether it is a whodunit or a whydunit, but there are mysteries there which will be solved by the end.”

The season continues with Crime and Punishment, which will be co-production with the Glasgow Citizens and the Liverpool Playhouse. It will be directed by Citizens artistic director Dominic Hill and open in Glasgow.

Union, which Thomson describes as a “bustling, foul-mouthed romp”, is set in the taverns of Edinburgh’s Old Town and the English court of Queen Anne in 1707, when the Scots parliament was debating whether Scotland should join in union with England.

Admitting the timely nature of the play, Thomson added that it was not commissioned. He said: “I think that is the best way. When art is asked to serve a function I think it suffers and it serves rather than celebrates. This play is celebratory. It celebrates its story but it is talking about us now, as well as then.”

The season also features Neil Duffield’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol, Eugene O’Neill’s Long Days Journey Into Night, and Noel Coward’s Private Lives, directed by Martin Duncan.

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