2:22 A Ghost Story at The Criterion Theatre

Danny Robins’ play 2:22 A Ghost Story opened at the Noël Coward Theatre in August 2021 to great acclaim garnering three Olivier nominations. It then transferred with a new cast to The Gielgud Theatre and is now at The Criterion Theatre with its second cast change at its latest home

Laura Whitmore as Jenny, Felix Scott as Sam - 2.22 A Ghost Story - photo by Helen Murray.
Laura Whitmore as Jenny, Felix Scott as Sam – 2.22 A Ghost Story – photo by Helen Murray.

2:22 A Ghost Story is set in one of those old Victorian houses you often see on television programmes such as ‘George Clarke’s Old House, New Home’ where an upwardly mobile young couple have bought an old house and start knocking it down, putting in new kitchens and tearing away at the fabric of a house that has been around for over 100 years. Anna Fleischle’s superb set depicts this perfectly with its incredibly high ceiling and attention to detail – it’s the perfect setting for what is to come.

The house is owned by Jenny (Tamsin Carroll) and Sam (Felix Scott) who are redecorating with great gusto whilst looking after their new baby. Sam has been away in Sark and whilst he’s not been at home, Jenny has been hearing strange ghostly noises at 2:22 in the morning and is convinced there is a ghost that once lived in the house demanding attention in the nursery. This night they’re having a dinner party for Sam’s old friend Lauren (Tamsin Carroll) and her new boyfriend Ben (Matt Willis) who’s a builder and more working class than the other three.

The dinner party starts normally but as Jenny tries to explain her fears for the baby’s safety and the malevolent presence of ghostly footsteps, the evening starts to fall apart with odd occurrences which start to spook everyone – everyone apart from Sam who’s a real cynic about ghosts as well as being a bit of a know it all. Jenny wants everyone to stay until 2:22 to prove that she’s right. As the play progresses, the various relationships start to fall apart as tensions erupt and the characters become polarised, taking sides on whether there are such things as ghosts. Jenny who is full of Catholic guilt is convinced there are and so does Ben who has past experience of hauntings and convinces the sceptical Lauren to join in a séance. Sam is against it but joins in anyway and this just racks up the tension which during the play is turned up to 11 with time being moved on with a loud scream, a blackout and the proscenium arch framed by blood-red LED lights – we know what time it is as there’s a big digital clock above a door. These blackouts (of which there was one too many) caused a lot of the audience to jump out of their seats with fright although it broke the tension and gave the audience time to catch their breath.

2:22 A Ghost Story is superbly written and has some excellent dialogue that allows the audience to be drawn into the plot, laughing at times whilst waiting for the next scary moment. It’s slightly old-fashioned in the tradition of ghost plays with shades of J B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls which was written in the 1940s. All four characters are very well acted and believable and the direction from Matthew Dunster is tight and the action never flags which is helped to make believable by Fleischle’s amazing set.

During the play, there’s a lot of discussion about the existence of ghosts – why they appear to some and not others, why aren’t there more and why do they only turn up in certain locations. All the dialogue and the action in the play gives the audience food for thought and it’s obviously all heading towards a thunderous climax. However, as I started to write the words “spoiler alert”, the lights in my office started to flicker, the temperature dropped 10 degrees, my computer mouse started moving around my desk of its own accord and the keyboard seemed out of my control. Then I looked up at my digital clock and saw it was 2:22…

4 stars

Review by Alan Fitter

This award-winning supernatural thriller continues its phenomenal West End run – now playing to packed houses at the Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly, starring Tamsin Carroll, Felix Scott, Laura Whitmore and Matt Willis.

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.

LAUREN – TAMSIN CARROLL
SAM – FELIX SCOTT
JENNY – LAURA WHITMORE
BEN – MATT WILLIS
COMPANY – NIGEL ALLEN
COMPANY – SOPHIA HANNIDES
COMPANY – LEON WILLIAMS

CREATIVE
WRITTEN BY DANNY ROBINS
DIRECTOR – MATTHEW DUNSTER
SET DESIGNER ANNA FLEISCHLE
COSTUME DESIGNER – CINDY LIN
LIGHTING DESIGNER – LUCY CARTER
SOUND DESIGNER – IAN DICKINSON FOR AUTOGRAPH
CO-DIRECTOR – ISABEL MARR
CASTING DIRECTOR – JESSICA RONANE CDG CSA
ILLUSIONS – CHRIS FISHER
FIGHT DIRECTORS – RACHEL BOWN-WILLIAMS & RUTH COOPER BROWN FOR RC ANNIE
VOCAL COACH – HAZEL HOLDER
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR – MATT HASSELL
ASSOCIATE SET DESIGNER – TINA TORBEY
ASSOCIATE COSTUME DESIGNER – JUSTIN ALLIN
ASSOCIATE LIGHTING DESIGNER – SEAN GLEASON
ASSOCIATE SOUND DESIGNER – GARETH TUCKER
ASSOCIATE CASTING DIRECTOR – ABBY GALVIN
ILLUSIONS ASSOCIATE – WILL HOUSTOUN
ASSOCIATE FIGHT DIRECTOR – CLAIRE LLEWELLYN
COMPANY STAGE MANAGER – LIZ ISAAC
DEPUTY STAGE MANAGER – ANDIE DEW
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER – HONOR KLEIN
HEAD OF SOUND – HERBERT HOMER
HEAD OF WARDROBE – ALISON WHITE
PRODUCER – TRISTAN BAKER
PRODUCER CHARLIE PARSONS
PRODUCER – RUNAWAY ENTERTAINMENT
PRODUCER – ISOBEL DAVID
CO-PRODUCER – KATER GORDON
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER – DIANNE ROBERTS
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER – GAVIN KALIN
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER – HUNTER ARNOLD
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER – ANDREW BOSWORTH
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER – CHRIS PUTNAM
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER – ELENA ZISKIND

Apollo Theatre, London
14 May 2023 – 17 Sep 2023

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