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2:22 at the Gielgud Theatre | Review

Matthew Dunster’s production of Danny Robins’ supernatural thriller is a spine-chilling evening of entertainment, drawing you in with its intriguing domestic drama, and leaving you clinging to the edge of your seats. Married couple Jenny and Sam – played in this new cast by Giovanna Fletcher and Elliot Cowan – are in the middle of refurbishing their new home, replacing all the rickety wardrobes and wonky shelves left by the previous owner, a widow named Margaret. But something strange has been happening over the past few nights whilst Sam has been away on a work trip: Jenny has been hearing strange sounds – footsteps and a man’s voice – eerily circling around their baby’s bedroom at precisely 2:22am. What starts off as a dinner party with an old friend Lauren (Stephanie Beatriz) and her new builder boyfriend Ben (James Buckley) soon spirals into a thrilling séance, in an attempt to make contact with whatever spirit – if it really is a spirit – that is keeping Jenny up at night.

222 A Ghost StoryFletcher is brilliant in this role. Her vocal performance in particular is very impressive, with crystal clear agony, desperation, as she pleads with her sceptical husband to believe that the unusual occurrences cannot be explained with logic. She does hit her peak a little too early, which leaves the second half of her performance with not really anywhere left to go. She’s still a compelling watch though, totally capturing the entirety of the expansive audience at the Gielgud. Elliot Cowan’s Sam is contrastingly focused, measured, and the two together have a great on stage chemistry.

Following such an iconic television role as Jay Cartwright in Channel 4’s The Inbetweeners it’s hard to see James Buckley as anything other than the foul-mouthed sixth former. Whilst his acting choices don’t seem particularly revolutionary here, he certainly finds the humour and integrity in Robins’ dialogue, which is cleverly interwoven through the story to relax the audience, before catching us off guard with another spooky revelation. Buckley and Beatriz make for an odd couple, but then that seems to be the idea.

Anna Fleischle’s set is unnervingly tall; a modern kitchen and expensive new doors, swallowed up by half-painted walls and old broken wallpaper, whilst the backdoors open to a foggy garden shed. Lucy Carter’s lighting design Ian Dickinson’s sound design join together triumphally to create this ghostly world of nightmares, of particular note, is the recurring heartbeat that reverberates through the walls, a warning to the audience that terror is about to arrive.

There are some odd points to the script I’m not sure are fully explained, the main being why Jenny doesn’t just grab her daughter and get as far away from the haunted house as possible, rather than what seems to be putting her up as bait only to prove her husband wrong? A few other plot points that are hard to question without giving the twists and turns away, but the story, on the whole, is so totally gripping that it’s easy enough to forgive a few dramaturgical faux pas. Besides, when the tension is at its peak you’re hardly left with the breathing space to question the specificities, it’s only in the moments after the thrilling final twist that some of the minor plot holes come to light. It could also do without the random jump scares – the piercing screams that close and open several scenes for no apparent reason (apart from terrifying the audience into such shock that we might not notice the stage management resetting the scenes whilst we try to catch our breath).

2:22 is a thrilling night out; a finely acted four-hander, with illusions by Chris Fisher that make the horror seem very real indeed.

4 stars

Review by Joseph Winer

Following a record-breaking run at the Noel Coward Theatre, this edge-of-your-seat supernatural thriller returns for a limited season at the Gielgud Theatre. After weeks of sold-out performances, audiences now have a chance to see this hit show with a brand new cast. Intriguing, funny and scary, it takes you on an adrenaline-filled night where secrets emerge and ghosts may appear…. Jenny (Giovanna Fletcher) believes her new home is haunted, but her husband, Sam (Elliot Cowan) isn’t having any of it. They argue with their first dinner guests, old friend Lauren (Stephanie Beatriz) and new partner Ben (James Buckley). Can the dead really walk again? Belief and scepticism clash but something feels strange and frightening. They’re going to stay up… until 2:22… and then they’ll know.

2:22 – A Ghost Story features set design by Anna Fleischle, costume design by Cindy Lin, lighting design by Lucy Carter, sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph Sound, casting by Jessica Ronane CDG and illusions by Chris Fisher.

2:22 – A GHOST STORY
By Danny Robins
Directed by Matthew Dunster
Starring an all-new cast: Elliot Cowan, Giovanna Fletcher, Stephanie Beatriz & James Buckley

Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 6AR
https://www.gielgudtheatre.co.uk/

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