Written during the lockdown, Ghostlight: The Unknown Soldier is the first of a trio of one-act plays, set in London theatres. It’s a tale of forbidden romance, love and loss set against the backdrop of war.
Set in the present day, our unknown soldier (played by Harvey Ebbage) is a theatre ghost, who has spent the past eighteen months in his own lockdown. Unable to leave the theatre and with no visitors to entertain, he laments about his life, growing up in America, black, gay and part of the Methodist Church, having to hide his true self from others. Coming to London to live more freely, he remembers his life and loves up until the day he died in an explosion in 1944. He doesn’t understand why the theatre has been uninhabited for so long and why, now people are beginning to return, they are wearing masks. We see how his freedoms amidst times of terrible tragedy let him meet the man, who is the love of more than a lifetime.
Harvey Ebbage is wonderful as the Unknown Soldier – varying pace and tone well to keep the audience engaged during long monalogues and Lewis Asquith helps keep things interesting as Travers, helping to tell the soldiers story.
Bunama McCreery-Njie (Aren) and Marie-Anna Caufor (Momma/Miss Adelaide) are woefully underused in the play and I would have liked to see the character of Ellie (referenced but not seen on stage) brought into it for some light comedy moments like stealing Judy Garlands lipsticks in her dressing room.
Ghostlight: The Unknown Soldier is a good story and for a first incarnation it does well. With a bigger budget, some set pieces and developed into a meatier two-act play, fleshing out the characters further, this could go on to be very good.
Reviewed by West End Wilma