EdFringe 2022 Review: Giving Up the Ghost

“Giving Up the Ghost is a breezy and energetically performed showcase for two impressive young talents on the rise.”

Rising theatrical talents George Brown and James Wilson star in and co-write Giving Up the Ghost which embarked on a run at Greenside’s Infirmary Street Studios this Edinburgh Fringe. The production uses dark humour and the heartfelt story of two male friends to explore themes including the difficulty of moving on from an overwhelming sense of grief and loss.

Jack (Wilson) has recently lost his best friend Michael (Brown), the result of a tragic accident. Spiralling into a web of grief, Jack regains his sense of purpose when a ghostly Michael returns and suggests they set out to accomplish everything they hadn’t managed to do when Michael was still alive. The result is a comic globe-trotting tour as the two young men seek to tick life-changing events off their communal bucket list, from walking the Camino de Santiago to immersing themselves in Germany’s Oktoberfest.

Brown and Wilson do an impressive job at combining tones of comedy with more poignant notes. Opening with Michael’s funeral, Giving Up the Ghost crafts quite a sombre tone before launching the surprise return of Michael on audiences – given greater comic impact by Brown’s infectiously chipper and cheeky performance. Wilson falls more into the straight man category, yet is able to pull some quieter comic punches. What follows is a generally quite uplifting narrative as the pair of best friends get themselves caught up in a variety of gently amusing situations across the globe.

There is an enjoyable spark between Brown and Wilson, who both manage to capture the multinational bucket list angle with some tongue-in-cheek staging tricks. Projections on a screen behind the pair and some quick staging changes quickly transports the pair from the canals of Amsterdam to the romantic Rome-based restaurants with a hint of skydiving and canoeing thrown in. There is some playful humour in the ghostly element of the narrative, captured as Michael instructs or more accurately derails Jack’s date with an Italian woman. Balancing out this humour with more sentimental elements is done with an unforced ease, the bond between the pair and the life goes on message that the boys’ trip suggests, provides an emotive yet uplifting narrative backbone.

Giving Up the Ghost is a breezy and energetically performed showcase for two impressive young talents on the rise. Capturing the process of moving on through grief with a natural charm and unforced emotion helps Giving Up the Ghost shine.

Giving Up the Ghost’s Edinburgh Fringe run has now finished but you can find out more information on the show here.

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