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2:22 A Ghost Story

2:22 A Ghost Story

Winner of BEST NEW PLAY at the Whatsonstage Awards, this edge-of-your-seat, supernatural thriller stars Jay McGuiness (The Wanted, BIG! The Musical, Rip It Up), Fiona Wade (Emmerdale, Silent Witness), George Rainsford (Call the Midwife, Casualty) and Vera Chok (Hollyoaks, Cobra).

Written by Danny Robins, creator of the hit BBC podcasts Uncanny and The Battersea Poltergeist, 2:22 A Ghost Story comes fresh from record-breaking seasons at five West End theatres with a host of acclaimed star performances. It’s a brilliantly funny and adrenaline-filled night where secrets emerge and ghosts may or may not appear… What do you believe? And do you dare discover the truth?


Jenny believes her new home is haunted, but her husband Sam isn’t having any of it. They argue with their first dinner guests, old friend Lauren and new partner Ben. Can the dead really walk again? Belief and scepticism clash, but something feels strange and frightening, and that something is getting closer, so they’re going to stay up… until 2:22… and then they’ll know.

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Our review on 2:22 A Ghost Story

2:22 A Ghost Story - The Lowry, Salford - Tuesday 31st October 2023 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating

I must be completely out of my mind!  I am a total wuss when it comes to the frights, and yet I’m at 2:22 A Ghost Story on Halloween?!  But this irrational game that we all tend to play with our own fear is exactly what has drawn me in, and bang on cue I jumped out of my seat within the first five minutes of the show starting.  Thankfully, I wasn’t on my own.

It has to be said that the psychology around a show like this is remarkable.  Everyone is on edge and primed to be scared before anything has even happened.  Heck – I’ve been freaked out all day!  Firstly, it has the whole “Ssshhhh!  Keep it a secret” thing going on, adding an air of mystery and trepidation as to what will forsake us, but also, quite simply, it has the word “ghost” in the title – a divisive and heated topic to say the least.  Everyone has an opinion on ghosts.  Everyone is full of conviction that their opinion is the correct one.  But we can’t all be right, can we?  2:22 A Ghost Story delves into these powerful beliefs from every angle.  Jenny (played by Louisa Lytton) is a new mum, exhausted and overwhelmed by the enormity of her new life and her new house.  After a few nights alone with husband Sam (played by Nathaniel Curtis) away for work, she starts to hear things, things that simply can’t be.  At 2:22am precisely, it starts.  Is it the ghost of the previous owner, someone trying to reach out, or simply the local foxes who like to screech and scare the bejesus out of you at any given moment.

Jenny has spent the last few nights terrified enough to believe that a spirit is trapped in the house, so when Sam returns home and his old university friend Lauren (played by Charlene Boyd), and her new boyfriend Ben (played by Joe Absolom) come over for dinner, her fear has escalated enough to make her share her theory, even though she knows Sam will mock her.  Sam believes in science, not spirits, and his pretentious, know all attitude offers up no support to his terrified wife, instead supplying her with endless explanations and probabilities.  He is not only a sceptic but a cynical one at that and belittles anyone who doesn’t agree with his logic.  As things start to happen around them, Jenny invites everyone to stay with her until 2:22am to see for themselves exactly what she is talking about.  Sam thinks it’s a terrible idea and just wants to get some sleep, reluctant to indulge Jenny’s stories any longer, but Ben, a believer with his own tales to tell and the self-declaration of being a little bit psychic, is fully on board, leaving Lauren to sit on the fence and instead live in a little bit of denial, hiding what she thinks she believes for fear of being laughed at.  As the clock ticks on, lights flicker, black outs plunge, sounds intensify, and tensions rise to the point of no return – 2:22am. 

My preconceptions of 2:22 A Ghost Story envisaged me attending a play where my friend went home with nail marks in her arm from me gripping her in the terrifying moments.  Well, yes  - that happened, but what I hadn’t envisaged or been aware of was just how funny this play is.  I mean, really funny.  It has some of the best one liners I have heard.  Maybe it just matched my own sense of sardonic humour but I was genuinely belly laughing and not only was this a pleasant surprise, but a clever trick too because the laughter made you relax, then……!!  I also found myself gasping open mouthed at the ”sshhh” bit that we aren’t allowed to talk about!  It’s brilliant!  And even as I am writing, bits keep coming back to mind, making me realise the complex layers and lengths this show has gone to in a way that will make you want to see it again through a different lens.  That’s all I’m saying.  My lips are……..zipped.   

The story takes place all in one location, Sam and Jennys fixer-upper house (set design - Anna Fleischle).  It is detailed to say the least, right down to the peeling wallpaper and working dishwasher!  Plenty of warnings are given prior to the show regarding the effects used in the performance, but many of the frights are provided by your own psychological responses.  As well as gaining a better understanding of your own fear factor levels, you’ll also learn about the lives of foxes, why asparagus makes your wee smell weird, and learn a new drinking game.  You’ll hear various ghost stories, see impressive special effects and lighting, and feel a palpable tension in the audience throughout.  I have to say, one of my favourite things was the feeling of “we’re all in this together” and that was felt every time we all screamed, then laughed that hesitant follow up laugh that mixes embarrassment with relief. 

Louisa Lytton, Nathaniel Curtis, Joe Absolom and Charlene Boyd truly are a wonderful quartet.  They bounce off of each other beautifully and continually layer their characters throughout the entire story.  This enables them to create multiple dynamics between each possible pairing, from Jenny and Sam, to Lauren and Ben, Ben and Sam, Lauren and Sam, Jenny and Ben, Lauren and Jenny – you get the picture.  The quick fire banter when the four of them are together is a delight to watch and underpins the inward verses outward relationships they are wrapped up in.  But it is when we get to see snippets of the multiple pairings that we really start to learn the truth of who these characters are and it is people watching at its best.  Lytton allows Jenny to grow in strength and in conviction of her own mind.  It is done so naturally and wonderfully that we perhaps find ourselves placed in Jennys shoes, with a shock realisation that this change needed to happen.  Curtis is brilliantly funny and has excellent delivery of his wise cracking, “I think you’ll find” smugness over everyone else in the room.  He plays the character with affection so we actually like Sam despite his pretentious, look down his nose at others nature.

Absolom is also fantastically funny and the pair bounce off each other with a natural, believable ease.  He has moments where you see Ben trying to control his inward feelings, towards Sam and equally Lauren, and he does so without words needing to be spoken, yet you can see his tension.  Boyd goes on quite the journey with Lauren, seemingly the most together of them all outwardly, yet perhaps the one who is struggling with inner feelings the most.  Through a combination of alcohol, fear and frustration, we see these erupt in unexpected ways, suggesting a volatile and unpredictable nature.  I love that each character has so many nuances hinted at, that leave you asking questions and wanting to explore them further.  It is clear to see why this play by Danny Robins has earned such critical acclaim and won awards for it is far more than a quick fright night.  It is a dynamic and textured character driven play that delves into our primal fears and instincts.  It illuminates a topic that can shut down a room or the closest friendships within minutes, for how do you recover from not being believed if you have seen a ghost or from feeling lied to if you don’t believe, from those we are supposed to trust the most?  This cast, under the direction of our own local legend Matthew Dunster and from Isabel Marr, will pose these intriguing questions to you through an evening of psychological, supernatural and striking screams, sarcasm and savvy know how.   

So, whether you believe in ghosts or not, 2:22 A Ghost Story has got you covered.  It manages to unify opposing views through that one word – ghost – because no matter whether you are team Jenny, Sam, Lauren or Ben, one thing is for certain – your response will be a strong and unwavering one.  And that right there is what makes this play so interesting.  It delves into our responses as much as our opinions.  It investigates how the different parts of our brain process things that go bump in the night, and that it is our physical and mental response to this process that is really the key to our determined beliefs.  They say that ghosts fill the gaps in our world, whether we believe this is in a spiritual, physical form or simply in our memories of loved ones, ghosts are never too far away.  Some find this comforting whilst others find it disturbing or creepy.  But regardless of how everyone in tonight's audience individually interpret and view ghosts, one thing is for sure – no one wants to be woken at 2:22am!    


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