Saturday, 11 December 2021

REVIEW: 2:22 A Ghost Story at the Gielgud Theatre

Starting a new season in a new theatre and cast, Danny Robins’ 2:22 A Ghost Story is ready to spook the audiences in the West End. Set in modern-day in a Victorian terrace, currently being refurbished by the couple who just moved in; Jenny (Author and Queen of the Jungle, Giovanna Fletcher) and Sam (Elliott Cowan from Demons) and their 1-year-old daughter, Phoebe, never seen on stage only heard through the baby monitor. 

Anna Fleischle’s set is a familiar space and feels almost homely, aside from the unfinished touches that give the house a spooky element. The stage is bordered by a bright red neon light and a digital clock looming above the door, counting down the hours before 2:22. 

Jenny and Sam have invited Sam’s university friend, Lauren (Brooklyn 99’s Stephanie Beatriz) and her builder boyfriend, Ben (Inbetweener’s James Buckley) round for a dinner party. Jenny has been left alone in the house for four days while Sam is away with work, and every night at 2:22am she hears footsteps around the baby’s cot and a man crying and speaking words she cannot decipher. She is scared and determined to prove her smug husband wrong as she demands everyone stay up until the titular hour to experience it for themselves. The relationships between the four shifts throughout the show and although they are given depth to their roles- it doesn’t necessarily showcase the actors’ talents. The dynamics are quite forced, and the couples don’t have a great deal of chemistry.

Matthew Dunster’s direction has the actors constantly moving around the stage, this seemed quite unnatural at the beginning, but it keeps the pace moving swiftly and the suspense rising as Jenny becomes frantic and agitated as her husband is increasingly unconvinced by her experiences. It reminds me of Patrick Hamilton’s ‘Gas Light’. 

The script doesn’t lend itself to be taken seriously, and the comedic lines- most effectively delivered by Buckley- make it difficult to differentiate when to be scared or when to be amused. This is more a dinner party play with a few jump scares thrown in for good measure, as Ian Dickinson’s sound design of bloodcurdling screams for the set changes is the horror equivalent of a cheap laugh. The rising tension between the guests and debates over whether ghosts may or may not be real brings up some interesting topics and hints at where the story could be going, but- without spoiling anything- the story isn’t predictable, so it is certainly entertaining and mostly gripping. 

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★

Seat: Stalls G8 | Price of Ticket: £95

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