Theatre review: Ghost, Edinburgh

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IT’S probably no concidence that the story of Ghost – a smash-hit film, and now a mighty blockbuster musical – dates from the same period as Tony Kushner’s great millennial fantasy, Angels In America.

Edinburgh Playhouse

Rating: * * * *

In the years before 2000, the western world seemed to throw itself into a last, wild romance with the supernatural, and with religious imagery. Hence Bruce Joel Rubin’s romantic and prescient screenplay about a young Wall Street banker killed in the street because he knows too much about some dodgy deals, who comes back, through sheer force of willpower, to save his beloved girlfriend from the same dangerous men who had him murdered.

Now, Rubin’s story has been transformed into a spectacular two-and-a-half-hour stage show, with a cast of almost 20 and a playlist of a dozen new songs, by a team of musicians and lyricists that includes Glen Ballard, and Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics. Although most of the music is standard rock-musical stuff –shouty, hyper-emotional ballads with little subtlety – it provides a tide of souped-up sound on which to float a dazzling and beautiful visual spectacle, in which stunning design, film and graphics, projected on to all three walls, interact with terrific company choreography and four powerful, punchy leading performances, integrated into the spectacle.

There are thrilling illusions by Paul Kieve, as Sam learns how to walk through walls; there are exciting images of the subway system, beautiful washes of Manhattan light in Molly’s flat, and rainy street-scenes featuring Magritte-like ranks of umbrellas.

The story is hopelessly romantic. But everyone involved in the Ghost design team should take a bow for a visually exciting show, a kind of surreal film with live actors, and beautiful with it.