Such a success was the initial West End run at The Noël Coward, breaking box office records for a new play at the theatre, Danny Robins’ 2:22 A Ghost Story very quickly announced a transfer to the Gielgud Theatre, where it has now opened with a brand-new cast.
Not having seen the initial run, all of the secrets remained fully in store. Like the Mousetrap and Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, audiences are encouraged to keep quiet about what the play is actually about, and seeing it without any prior knowledge is highly recommended.
Given the title, it’s no spoiler to say that 2:22 A Ghost Story is terrifically terrifying. Under the direction of Matthew Dunster, the production utilises various methods to achieve multiple ‘jump scares’ and if the screaming audience are anything to go by, they all worked!
But Robins’ script is so much more than just a scary story, if you were to strip out the ghostly elements you would be left with a domestic drama that would still work on plenty of levels; a husband and wife having their relationship tested, a friend and her new boyfriend ready to throw a spanner in the works.
While those big, dramatic, scares are what the audience are likely to remember most, there’s also a strong psychological element to the script, most notably the ticking clock taking us to the ghastly conclusion at precisely 2:22. This is real edge of your seat stuff, and Danny Robins has shown a mastery of the genre, taking the audience on an elaborate journey of suspense.
Giovanna Fletcher gives an admirably tense performance as Jenny, the new mother who senses something is amiss in the couple’s new home. As her husband, Elliot Cowan successfully makes Sam the thoroughly irritating character he’s intended to be, and the pair’s chemistry veers between love and anger quicker than the Alexa can cue up the next playlist.
American TV star, Stephanie Beatriz makes her West End debut in 2:22 A Ghost Story, and it feels like a genuine privilege to watch her perform live on stage. The character is a complex one, and Beatriz makes exploring the multifaceted Lauren look easy.
Completing the cast, and succeeding in stealing almost every scene, is James Buckley as Ben. With precision timing, Buckley delivers each line as if he wrote the script himself, bringing just enough comedy to balance out the tense anticipation that features so heavily. It’s 20 years since Buckley last appeared in the West End (as a child in Les Misérables) but the real horror story would be if we have to wait that long to see him on stage again.
True fans of the genre will relish in the way 2:22 A Ghost Story has been constructed, while the rest of us will marvel at just how easily Robins succeeds in making our blood run cold. Thanks to Stephanie Beatriz and James Buckley in particular, this is an unmissable piece of drama with enough for everyone to enjoy. Though you may want to take a friend to hold on to.
2:22 A Ghost Story is currently booking until 12th February 2022. Tickets are on sale here.