Coronation Street star Charles Lawson has pulled out of a second performance of the new Inspector Rebus play - after its long-awaited debut in Edinburgh was dramatically halted when he took ill on stage.
The announcement was made just four hours before the 59-year-old actor was due to appear on stage at the King’s Theatre in Long Shadows.
Lawson will be replaced for a second night in a row by his understudy, Neil McKinven, after undergoing medical tests following his sudden departure from the show mid-performance on Monday.
It has not been confirmed if Lawson will be well enough to appear in two planned performances at the venue on Wednesday.
The opening performance was suddenly halted after Lawson appeared to forget his lines, then apologised to the audience and announced he was feeling faint, before being helped off the stage by two fellow cast members.
Lawson had been performing in a pivotal scene with John Stahl, who plays Rebus’s arch-nemesis Cafferty, and Cathy Tyson, who plays long-time the retired detective’s long-time sidekick Siobhan Clarke. McKinven took over the role of Rebus after a break of around five minutes.
The King’s Theatre was sold out for the opening night of the run of the play, which was created by author Ian Rankin, who was in the first-night audience, and playwright Rona Munro.
A statement issued on behalf of the show’s producers said: “Charles Lawson was unfortunately taken ill towards the end of last night’s performance of Rebus: Long Shadows at the King’s Theatre. However, in true theatrical fashion, his understudy Neil McKinven went on and completed the performance.
“Doctors have advised that Mr Lawson should not perform this evening and so Neil McKinven will perform the part of Rebus. Mr Lawson will be back on stage as soon as possible.”
Long Shadows, which premiered at Birmingham Rep last month, is due to continue its run at the King’s until Saturday go on tour around the UK until the end of next month.
Speaking ahead of its premiere about agreeing to take on the part, Lawson said: “It was one of those things that was a ‘yes’ straight away. You don’t turn something like this down. You need to really challenge yourself now and again as an actor.
“I’m quite glad I was unfamiliar with the character. You don’t want to bring baggage like that with you to a role. I approached it with a blank sheet of paper from day one. I’m right in the thick of it now.
“The complexities of Rebus are obvious. We’re not doing some existential piece. His faults are all there, warts and all, from page one.
“Rebus and Cafferty’s ‘friendship’ has been built up over 25 years. They’re very much like Holmes and Moriarty.
“You can see there is grudging respect for each other, but by the same token they also battle like two bulls in a ring.”
It emerged last week that stage and screen star Andy Gray had pulled out of the forthcoming Christmas panto at the King’s Theatre after being diagnosed with blood cancer.
The 58-year-old had been due to appear with regular co-stars Grant Stott and Allan Stewart in Beauty and the Beast.