The Sunshine Ghost

The Studio, Potterrow Edinburgh

Mary Brennan

Three stars

Stone by ancient stone, the remains of Castle MacKinnon have been transported from their Heilan’ hame to Naples, Florida. If you’ve seen the classic British film, The Ghost Goes West (1935), this premise might seem a familiar start to a new silly-spooky kerfuffle where a kilted spectre from the Old World (c 1745) is plucked from his context and subsequently engulfed by the brash ways of 1950’s America.

This musical, however, spirits the narrative off, in a different direction. Written by Andy Cannon, its pawky on-stage narrator Lachlan , along with composer/lyricist Richard Ferguson, The Sunshine Ghost plays a merry pastiche game that dabbles in stereotypes - Barrie Hunter’s bumptious American tycoon whose billions over-ride other people’s wishes, for instance - and nods, albeit on a small scale, to the song’n’dance numbers that Broadway elevated from two-bit vaudeville routines to a high end popular art form.

There is no shortage of ambition here, and director Ken Alexander has a proven flair for clever business that adds witty value to a one-liner or a throwaway aside. The cast of five, plus Ferguson on piano, go over the top with commendable gusto - Helen Logan’s Astrobeth conjures up Gloria Swanson as Madam Arcati, Neshla Caplan nicely side-steps Doris Day’s naivete as the tycoon’s sparky daughter while John Kielty, trussed up in the tartan, makes the Ghost roguishly attractive and the far-fetched twists acceptable.

But it’s clearly early days for this project - produced by Scottish Theatre Producers with Festival and King's Theatres Edinburgh - with this tour a development try out for a future large-scale show. Though set pieces - Astrobeth’s radio broadcast, for one - are entertaining, the action sprawls across two hours... some exorcism (as in cuts) would banish various demons.