Festival Theatre Edinburgh – until 2 March 2019
Reviewed by Manetta McIntosh
For anyone who is familiar with the classic movie version, you can be forgiven for attending with some trepidation. It is hard to imagine that the stage version would be able to reproduce the cinematic tricks which made the movie the classic it became. The storyline relates very closely to the movie, Sam and Molly are a young professional couple who are beginning their life together when tragedy strikes. Sam is killed in an apparent robbery gone wrong and he returns as a ghost to seek justice with the help of a seemingly fake psychic.
As the lights dimmed a haunting arrangement of Unchained Melody began to play and the audience were completely drawn in. Rebekah Lowings who played Molly did bear a resemblance to Demi Moore which made her character feel familiar yet suitably different. There were subtle echoes of the movie throughout, small things that fans will recognise immediately such as Sam’s shirt, Molly’s dungarees, things that set you at ease.
The staging was cleverly introduced; the changing of scenes was seamless and how they recreated the subway was delightful. Lighting was skilfully utilised to draw the eye to where they wanted you to look which allowed for elusive changes to the set. Whilst it felt it was too early in our relationship with the characters to have them disrobing each other only ten minutes in to the show, by the end of the first half you were completely invested in Sam and Molly as a couple.
It is difficult to review this show without making comparisons to the movie, but one of the most iconic scenes has to be the pottery wheel with Unchained Melody playing in the background. This was delicately reproduced to pay homage to the movie but presented in such a way that made it feel like a scene in its own right.
Rebekah Lowings has an incredible voice, when she sang With You I had goosebumps. Niall Sheehy singing Unchained Melody (when Sam utilises Ode Mae’s body to be close to Molly) was another goose bump moment. And try as I might to dislike him, when Carl (Sergio Pasquariello) was singing with Molly I was totally transfixed by his voice. Not all the songs hit the mark but this was not the fault of the singers, the vocals were incredible.
Jacqui Dubois as Ode May Brown deserves a paragraph all to herself. Her version of the character was superb, her pizazz and humour boldly punctuated an otherwise emotional storyline. Ode Mae brings a welcom spark to the show and her comedy timing is spot on. Her efforts were repaid in buckets during the encore when she, by far, got the loudest cheering applause.
A must see show for fans of the movie or newbies alike, if you like musical adaptations you will love this.