Originally slated for only a brief run as theatre’s reopened following the pandemic shutdown, Danny Robins’ 2:22 A Ghost Story, has now taken up residence in its third theatre – the Criterion, and welcomed its fourth cast, making this cleverly chilling play an unmistakable West End hit that has audiences quite literally on the edges of their seats.
Seeing the production for a second time comes with the downside of knowing how it ends, like The Mousetrap and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, audiences are urged to keep the secret, and not spoil it for audiences yet to experience this paranormal delight. Yet, it also comes with the benefit of realising just how terrific Robins’ writing is, picking out the clues that are laced throughout.
Under the direction of Matthew Dunster, 2:22 A Ghost Story uses a variety of methods to playfully scare its audience. There are a few jump scares, which definitely do the trick, but it’s probably fair to say that this play relies on the psychological elements to really leave its audience terrified.
But what’s striking about the strength of the writing is that you could easily take out all of these scarier elements and still be left with a compelling drama. Jenny and Sam have moved into a new house with their baby daughter, and when Lauren and new boyfriend Ben come to visit, Jenny confesses that there have been strange goings on in the middle of the night.
As the alcohol flows, the debate rages on between the believers and non-believers. It throws up some interesting questions that will make the audience think twice about their own views on the paranormal. But it also explores the nature of relationships and the class divide, all of which is drawn out in tantalisingly enjoyable scenes.
Laura Whitmore leads the cast with aplomb as Jenny, while Felix Scott finds just the right blend of arrogance and charm in the role of Sam. Tamsin Carroll brings a more sophisticated slant to the role of Lauren, and the character is all the richer for it. Matt Willis is superb as Ben, leaning right into the antagonistic nature of the role, but also providing perfectly timed comic relief.
2:22 A Ghost Story really doesn’t lose any of its shine when viewing it for a second time, in fact it might even enhance the experience, because whether you know how it ends or not, this play remains spine-chillingly enjoyable, as well as an unmissable piece of drama.