Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts was a ground-breaking play in that it dealt (in the 1880’s) with the previously taboo subject of venereal disease. In the play, the ancient theme of the sins of the father being visited on the next generation is taken literally, when a young man discovers that he has inherited syphilis, which was, in the late nineteenth century, an incurable disease.
The play was revived relatively recently at the Comedy Theatre in the West End, in a production starring Francesca Annis. The Barbican's version has taken the rare step of suggesting an age barrier (suitable for ages 16 and over), though sex in the play is essentially referred to rather than seen. Far from being prurient, Ghosts is actually a very powerful family drama, with a central theme of wasted lives and ruined ambitions.