Home » London Theatre Reviews » 2:22 A Ghost Story at Richmond Theatre | Review

2:22 A Ghost Story at Richmond Theatre | Review

I suppose the first thing many people will want to know is whether I was spooked by 2:22: A Ghost Story. Yes, twice, both in the second act, though it was not because of what was seen on stage. Rather like Ghost Stories, which I saw in the West End in 2010, it was more to do with the very sudden change in lighting combined with a loud wall of sound. For the most part, however, the show had an added entertainment value in being amongst patrons who were more reactive to the stagecraft. Or maybe I have an acutely macabre sense of humour.

Vera Chok (Lauren), Jay McGuiness (Ben) - Johan Persson, set design by Anna Fleischle.
Vera Chok (Lauren), Jay McGuiness (Ben) – Johan Persson, set design by Anna Fleischle.

Jenny (Fiona Wade) has concerns about what she believes to be paranormal activity in a contemporary-looking house. She and her husband Sam (George Rainsford), it transpires, bought an older property and stripped it of its previous character. The same things, for the past few days, has happened at 2:22am, causing distress to Jenny and her baby daughter: what those things are would, alas, be giving too much away. That said, if you really want to know, the details are, at the time of writing, on the play’s Wikipedia page.

The couple host dinner for their friend Lauren (Vera Chok) and her boyfriend Ben (Jay McGuiness), and, as tends to happen when friends who haven’t seen each other for some time meet up in a play, the proverbial pressure cooker builds and various tensions and disagreements start flowing. Here, revelations pour out fairly naturally, with builder Ben stereotypically speaking in a (sort of) Cockney accent – more pertinently, his straight-talking style made the audience aware, without subtlety, what his home life is ‘really’ like.

Sam and Ben do not get on, and not just because of the middle/working class (or white/blue collar) divide – their outlooks with regards to the supernatural, and specifically, the very existence of ghosts (in something clearly billed as a ghost story) is markedly different. But what I presume is meant to be outright hostility is instead presented as cordial disagreement, such that the show doesn’t have the dramatic tension it could have had. It is left to the women to put their feet down and make clear what their proverbial red lines are in no uncertain terms.

The final plot twist is, to be fair, an impressive one, and the story was a talking point amongst patrons on my train home: some people saw the ending a mile off (there are clues even before the interval), others found the big reveal to be exactly that. It’s a well-paced production – the play’s events, I am pleased to report, are not performed in real-time, and we were out of the theatre well before 10:00pm. For the more intellectually minded, there are discussions about what kind of people Sam and Jenny (or is it Jenny and Sam?) are – is gentrification ‘progress’, as Sam asserts, or is it, as Ben would have it, forcing others out?

As far as thriller plays go (and this is a thriller play, and not a horror play – there isn’t, as far as I recall, any fake stage blood at all in this production) it’s more psychological than terrifying. Anna Fleischle’s set design works well, with both the front room and kitchen in full view, a striking contemporary contrast to the Victorian décor of Richmond Theatre, designed by Frank Matcham. I’m not sure whether it would have the same appeal on a repeat visit, although it is, in the end, an inventive production that held my attention throughout.

4 stars

REview by Chris Omaweng

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.

Winner of Best New Play at the WhatsOnStage Awards, this edge-of-your-seat, supernatural thriller is written by Danny Robins, creator of the hit BBC podcasts Uncanny & The Battersea Poltergeist, and comes fresh from record-breaking seasons at four West End theatres with a host of acclaimed star performances (including among others Lily Allen, Cheryl, Stephanie Beatriz, Tom Felton, Jake Wood and James Buckley).

Highly recommended and great fun!
John Groves, LondonTheatre1

2:22 A Ghost Story is at Richmond Theatre from Tuesday 26th March, 2024 to Saturday 30th March, 2024.

View all shows booking now at Richmond Theatre.

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