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BWW Review: GHOSTS, National Theatre of Scotland

BWW Review: GHOSTS, National Theatre of Scotland

BWW Review: GHOSTS, National Theatre of Scotland

BWW Review: GHOSTS, National Theatre of Scotland

Ghosts is an interactive augmented reality theatrical experience that uses the camera on your phone and headphones to play out through the streets of Glasgow. Starting at Ramshorn Kirk, Ghosts leads you through the streets of Merchant City with a young black boy from 18th century Glasgow telling you his story.

Written and directed by Adura Onashile, Ghosts is a socially distanced theatrical experience that is all the more effective for being a solo journey. Wired earphones are recommended for better sound quality to fully immerse yourself in the tale. The subject of the story is Glasgow's slavery history and the streets that the app takes you through are the ones named after wealthy merchants- though this is never explicitly stated in the narrative.

As the boy tells you about his life in Glasgow, old street maps and photographs appear in front of your phone camera. Another storyteller is the boys mother who describes being on a ship to Glasgow while pregnant and the waves drift across the camera. When moving between locations Niroshini Thambar's atmospheric score plays alongside the boy breathing as he accompanies you on the journey.

There is a disclaimer at the beginning of the app that reminds you to put your safety first as you explore the streets. Onashile's storytelling is so well done that it is easy to forget your surroundings and be mindful of your safety. The AR experience is brilliantly designed but at times I didn't feel fully comfortable holding my phone out in the street. I did the walk in the early evening and I had to skip a couple of the more isolated locations and stay on the main roads listening to the audio without the visuals.

Ghosts is an emotional and innovative theatrical experience. Beautifully written and poetic, this subtle storytelling puts the spotlight on Scotland's slave trade history.

Ghosts is available to download for £4.99 from 26 April until 9 May.

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