REVIEW: Ghost – Edinburgh Playhouse
Walking back to their apartment one night, Sam and Molly are mugged, leaving Sam murdered on a dark street. Sam is trapped as a ghost between this world and the next and unable to leave Molly who he learns is in grave danger. With the help of a phony store-front psychic, Oda Mae Brown, Sam tries to communicate with Molly in the hope of saving her.
I strongly doubt that the 1990 mega-hit movie, Ghost would ever have been a likely candidate for a stage musical adaptation in anyone’s books – having at its core a heart-breaking love story with a dramatic cat and mouse thriller thrown in for good measure. However, it’s precisely this, and the innovative on-stage effects and illusions that make it stand apart from other movie-based musical fodder.
The most technically advanced production ever to tour the UK: the cleverly designed visuals, including projected backdrops, evocative lighting and illusions designed by Paul Kieve, (which allow Sam to walk through solid doors) are stunning in their realisation – the subway scene in particular is jaw-droppingly impressive. To say any more would spoil the multitude of surprises in store.
Stewart Clarke’s central performance as the tragic Sam is deserving of acclaim – he manages to convey the right balance of anger, disbelief, sense of loss and frustration as he makes his journey to acceptance and peace. He is also in possession of a powerful voice with beautiful tone. As Molly, Rebecca Trehearn fares less well, though a competent singer, her voice at certain parts of her range was a little reedy and at times she lacked both the charisma and the emotional depth to convey the sorrow of a woman so recently bereaved.
The moments of light relief come in the form of Wendy Mae Brown playing her near-namesake Oda Mae Brown, she sparkles with sass and shimmies across the stage in an eye-dazzling array of outfits, stealing every scene she’s in and as the duplicitous Carl, David Roberts delivers a convincing performance. The show also benefits from an accomplished ensemble, strong voiced and with impressive dance skills.
If there’s any criticism of the show then it’s the music by Glen Ballard and Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, though pleasant and entirely fitting to the piece (if a little repetitive) one questions at times if it’s needed at all. This is a very different theatre-going experience – it’s a movie played out onstage and the story-telling and performances alone are strong enough.
I defy anyone who sees this not to leave the theatre with a tear in their eye or a lump in their throat – an unmissable show.