REVIEW: Ghost – Edinburgh Playhouse

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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