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2:22 A Ghost Story

2:22 A Ghost Story

Winner of BEST NEW PLAY at the Whatsonstage Awards, this edge-of-your-seat, supernatural thriller stars Jay McGuiness (The Wanted, BIG! The Musical, Rip It Up), Fiona Wade (Emmerdale, Silent Witness), George Rainsford (Call the Midwife, Casualty) and Vera Chok (Hollyoaks, Cobra).

Written by Danny Robins, creator of the hit BBC podcasts Uncanny and The Battersea Poltergeist, 2:22 A Ghost Story comes fresh from record-breaking seasons at five West End theatres with a host of acclaimed star performances. It’s a brilliantly funny and adrenaline-filled night where secrets emerge and ghosts may or may not appear… What do you believe? And do you dare discover the truth?

“THERE’S SOMETHING IN OUR HOUSE. I HEAR IT EVERY NIGHT, AT THE SAME TIME”

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.

Watch our "In Conversation with Fiona Wade and George Rainsford" video.



Watch our "In Conversation with Jay McGuiness and Vera Chok" video.

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Our review on 2:22 A Ghost Story

2:22 A Ghost Story - The Lowry, Salford - Tuesday 4th June 2024 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating
2:22 A GHOST STORY IS SO INTELLIGENT AND WITTY, AND PLAYS THE BEST GAME OF HIDE AND SEEK WITH YOUR PSYCHOLOGICAL PRIMAL FEARS

I have braved 2:22 A Ghost Story once before, on Halloween no less, and I survived – just!  I have kept the secret this whole time, but now I know it, I have to confess I was even more excited to go back and rewatch this show because I had a feeling it was going to blow my mind all over again!  I am usually a bit of a wuss in the spooky stakes so a part of me is asking why I am putting myself through this a second time, but 2:22 is so intelligent and witty, and plays the best game of hide and seek with your psychological primal fears that it’s beyond things that go bump in the night, opening its doors to all kinds of believers.  Basically, 2:22 A Ghost Story is impossible to resist, luring you in with a teasing, tantalising temptation that will cause your spine to tingle, your seat to be gripped and your senses to be woken up in ways you never imagined!  And this is my obsession with 2:22 – the unique ways that our brains are manipulated, derailed and impacted by fear, and how that fear is personal to each and every one of us, just as ghosts are.  It means that there is a shared camaraderie in the audience and a sense of ‘we are all in this together’ before anything has even happened, bringing a heightened anticipation and tangible excitement.  Adding an additional layer of mystery and intrigue is the secrecy surrounding the show, dangling the carrot of wanting to become a part of the club, to be in the know and have inside information that the poor unfortunates who haven’t seen it are inflicted with.  Then of course there is the unknown.  What is 2:22?  Is it a time?  And if so, why is it so important?  What forsakes the unsuspecting mortals at such a time?  Knowing this is a ghost story paves the way for our imaginations to run riot, and no avenue is left unexplored, leading us to the dark and twisty crossroads of divisive opinions. 

     


And so it is we meet Jenny (Fiona WadeEmmerdale, Waterloo Road), an exhausted and wiped out new mum who is juggling too much life whilst trying to adjust to a new home as well as a new role.  Husband Sam (George RainsfordCasualty, Call The Midwife, Wish You Were Dead) has been away with work, leaving her to not only deal solo with the baby and the troublesome foxes that keep setting security lights off, but to host a dinner for his old friend Lauren (Vera ChokHollyoaks, Chewing Gum, Chimamerica) and her new partner Ben (Jay McGuinessThe Wanted, Strictly, Big The Musical).  Therefore, when Sam returns, things are already a little tense, particularly as Jenny has been spooked out by certain goings on in their new home.  But Sam is way too practical and scientific to believe in any of Jenny’s ramblings, undermining her accounts with what he believes is irrevocable proof that her mind is simply playing tricks on her.  As the evening goes on, tensions surface, both old and new, with opinions clashing and frustrations growing more intense.  The existence or fable of ghosts is the topic on everyone’s lips and as Jenny feels increasingly mocked by the one person she needs to believe in her, she conjures up an idea.  An idea that leaves four adults waiting for the clock to strike 2:22 precisely.  And what will happen when it does?  Give over! As if I’m going to be the cause of that spoiler!!


Fiona Wade
perfectly pulls us into her ghost story from the second she appears on stage.  She weaves a tapestry of emotive responses as we are able to empathise, sympathise, believe and doubt in her convictions.  She keeps us on our toes and intrigued throughout.  Wade can appear both strong and determined whilst longing for compassion and support from the one person who is supposed to believe her.  You can see her mind at play as she tries to figure out how you continue when your husband doesn’t believe you.  Her performance is incredible, covering so many of the big emotions in a truthful and just way.  George Rainsford excels as the smug Sam, allowing a character that has the potential to be overbearing and obnoxious infectiously likeable at the same time. He is confident, self-assured and owns the stage with a certain charm.  He ignites the stage with a captivating energy and is so quick with his comic timing that just like his character, he is always one step ahead.  His explosive frustrations when others don’t agree with him nestle impressively alongside his ability to show Sam’s love in his own unique way.


Jay McGuiness
brings us Ben, a character who believes in his own psychic abilities and is the polar opposite of Sam in every way.  He believes Sam to be a privileged snob and subtly displays his resentments and jealousies over Sams relationship with Lauren with a palpable fury that he persistently tries to supress.  He is also extremely funny and down to earth, yet other worldly at the same time.  McGuiness plays all these opposing traits to a tee, and captures these moments with a perfectly timed look, raised eyebrow or nod of the head.  He equally brings us a little bit of menace when sparring with Sam in an eerily controlled manner and these gear changes really do engage and keep you locked in.  We see the emotional spiral of Lauren courtesy of Vera Chok, whose loyalty to Sam denies her own truth as she goes to extremes to prove herself.  But you can only deny your truth for so long before it threatens to erupt, and once that happens, there is nowhere to hide.  She is excellent at portraying hidden feelings and as the alcohol takes hold, we see Chok develop Lauren further still in unexpected ways.  The intensity of restrained crying speaks volumes to the whirlwind going on inside this character and you see everything that is never said through those tears.  A wonderfully hypnotic performance.  Individually the cast are great but together they are superb, bouncing off each other with expert timing and nuanced precision.


Directed by Matthew Dunster and Isabel Marr, the interplay between the characters and their array of varying relationships is explored with a thirst for intrigue and truth, highlighting that the concept of truth is so personal and subjective.  The honest and naturalistic performances make the whole thing entirely believable, allowing you to picture yourself right in the thick of the discussion.  It continually messes with your mind.   Anna Fleischle’s set brings Jenny and Sams fixer-upper house alive in more ways than one.  Peeling wallpaper, trinkets, a working kitchen, and of course, a working clock that announces the passing of time.  2:20…….2:21…..2:22! 


I cannot stress enough how sharp, quick and finely tuned the humour is in 2:22 A Ghost Story.  Of course you can expect the jump factor through flickering lights, black outs, screams, and unexpected noises alongside the psychological thrill of suspense, but what caught me even more unawares was the sensationally funny sarcasm, roasting, and one liners.  You will belly laugh as much as you will jump and scream, perhaps even more so.  Writer Danny Robins is a master at observing human nature.  He has captured complex and beguiling relationships, intertwined with delicate histories, and clashed personalities, beliefs, and social backgrounds, all against the heated and taboo subject of ghosts.  This enables 2:22 A Ghost Story to appeal to all, because it beautifully blends it all, creating so much more than a scary play.  And this is why it has won so any awards.  It focuses on character first, people first, and these characters are so well written that for everything they tell you, there is equally something that they hide.  The complexities at play are stunning.  
 


Watching this show for the second time is just as rewarding as the first, if not more so because I get to view it through an entirely new lens and my goodness, the detail that presents itself when you know the secret is fantastic!  As realisation of so many things clanged into my consciousness, I wanted to scream out at the sheer brilliance of it all.  So my genuine advice is that 2:22 A Ghost Story is a show you need to watch at least twice because the first time offers suspense, secrets and thrill, whilst the second showing offers amazement, reveals and an overwhelming, awe inspiring sense of consciousness.  Plus, you will still jump just as much the second time round if you’re anything like me!  There are many effects used throughout the show to assist you with those jumps.  But for me, this game of sleeping lions or Grandma’s footsteps with my own imagination is the true fear factor of the show, fear triggered by the mere suggestion of what is to come, of facing the unknown, our primal instincts triggered by our own doing.  The show makes you play hide and seek with your own limits, makes you jump out of your seat the next, then belly laugh as you discover random facts, such as why asparagus makes your wee smell weird!  Then of course, there are the ghost stories.  Everyone has one.  Hold your breath.  Don’t blink.  Always question.  Be wary of who you trust.  And don’t move.  Then, if all else fails - scream!  


2:22 A Ghost Story
plays with your mind, making you question everything you thought you knew.  It provides twists and turns that quite literally emote gasps of shock, surprise and awe from this responsive audience.  It respectfully unifies the beliefs surrounding ghosts from a variety of angles by representing them all, but it does so by simply lighting a fuse with the word ghost, then sitting back and letting the explosion happen.  It is a topic that continues to have pulling power and perhaps always will, and so whether you find yourself aligned with Jenny, Sam, Lauren or Ben, the mere whisper of the word ghost can animate even the most tempered of souls.  So, whether talk of ghosts evokes the need for you to call ghostbusters, a spiritualist, or a psychologist, 2:22 A Ghost Story will get you talking, will float amongst the darkest corridors of your own subconscious, and will keep dropping questions into your mind long after the show has finished.



WE SCORE 2:22 A GHOST STORY...




Watch our "In Conversation with Fiona Wade and George Rainsford" video

 

Watch our "In Conversation with Jay McGuiness and Vera Chok" video

 

Our review on 2:22 A Ghost Story

2:22 A Ghost Story - The Lowry, Salford - Tuesday 4th June 2024 by Erin and Lacey

Our Rating
YOU'LL BE LEFT QUESTIONING YOUR OWN BELIEFS AND DUMBFOUNDED AT THE TWIST

At first, having very minimal knowledge of the play, 2:22 A Ghost Story, we recognise that the show’s name immediately pulls you in, as there can be many different interpretations of the title. One of them is that ‘2:22’ could possibly be a time of day, where ghosts and ghouls may appear. Haunted houses are at the forefront of modern psychological thriller/horror movies and shows, and Jenny believes that she and her husband Sam are now living in one. However, Sam disagrees and thinks she’s imagining things. How could their new home be haunted? Jenny feels a presence and argues with Sam’s old friend Lauren and her new partner Ben on the unknown side of death. Is there always a scientific explanation for everything, or do ghosts really exist, haunting houses and terrifying the living? 


We are watching this show from 2 completely different perspectives. One of us adores horror and the thrill of scares, but on the other hand, one of us is more of a rom-com fan. Luckily, this show seems to cover all bases, with the appeal of humour pulling us in. 

At first, the set comes across as homely and appears to be a regular, run-of-the-mill house that any young couple may live in. The walls haven’t been painted, which is normal when you move into a new house, but they jar with the well placed furniture putting you at unease. And then, as you pay more attention to the rest of the set, your eyes are drawn to the finer details. Take the clock, for example. It ticks faster than a regular clock, timing through days within minutes, and paired with the fast electro-synth music, you feel rushed, and tension begins to build. As if anything could happen. 


The staging is open, leaving much space for your imagination to wander when the play begins suddenly. Fiona Wade (Emmerdale, Waterloo Road, Grange Hill) begins alone on stage, painting the walls, at 2:22. At first, it piques curiosity. What is she doing up so late? Silence takes over, and the audience complies.  You could hear a pin drop. Tension and fear of the unknown fill the room. We soon find out about Jenny’s ghostly encounters. Footsteps around her baby’s cradle every night, at the exact same time. But her husband Sam, played by George Rainsford (Casualty, Wish You Were Dead, The Three Musketeers), is sceptical. Science is the only answer. There is always a logical explanation for everything. Wade and Rainsford mesh perfectly together in these roles, their lines bouncing off each other so naturally it was as if the show were alive. Jenny, being a nervous and clearly concerned mother about the state of her home, paces back and forth, rushes her words, but stays confident in her belief in a ghost. Wade portrays this beautifully, and although her character may be rushed, and raises her voice, Wade’s diction stays perfect, ensuring the audience can understand her every word, and grip onto the story like a lifeline.


Rainsford’s
character is extremely enthusiastic and bubbly, but acts like a know it all when it comes to the facts. Completely confident in his belief that ghosts aren’t real, Sam clashes with Ben, a firm believer in ghosts, and even considers himself a spiritualist. At first, Sam’s wit seems charming, but unfolds into arrogance and stubbornness throughout the play.  Rainsford’s performance is unmatched, and it is clear that he’s put a lot of thought and effort behind his character.


Going back to Ben, portrayed by Jay McGuiness (The Wanted, Strictly Come Dancing, Big!), who sides with Jenny through the show. Whilst his habit of smoking takes him out of the room and into the garden on multiple occasions, his presence fills the room. His humour and comedic timing are an excellent relief to sudden jump scares, and McGuiness is clearly comfortable in his role, with a thick London accent rolling off the tongue. He performs well with co-star Vera Chok (Hollyoaks, Twelfth Night, Chimerica), who plays Lauren, Ben’s girlfriend and old friend of Sam’s. Lauren is presented as quite a mysterious character. There’s definitely more to her than meets the eye, and while she may have had a supernatural experience in younger years, she really only sides with Jenny and Ben to prove a point to Sam. Chok’s ability to depict a variety of emotions is outstanding, and she fits her role phenomenally. Not to mention her American accent - remarkable on all fronts.


Easily, one of the main focus points is humour. Whilst the show may be seen at first glance as a psychological thriller, the jokes from all members of the cast had the audience burst out in laughter on multiple occasions. However, on the other end of the spectrum, the audience could be left gripping their seats, terrified for the next move. Many moments hit the audience at full force, and when the stage blacked out, everyone, including us, would be left in the unknown. We would desperately try to fill the gaps, talking and sharing our opinions with neighbours, wanting to figure everything out. Watching the show, there was an immense feeling of togetherness. Shows like this are incredible, because they connect everyone in the room, and friends are easily made from the experience. 


This show deserves all the love and support it can get, because Matthew Dunster, Isabel Marr and Danny Robins have completely and utterly outdone themselves. 2:22 A Ghost Story is a one-of-a-kind show, and we urge everyone to get a ticket whilst they still can. From meeting the cast earlier in the day, it was clear that everyone knew what they were doing and were immensely enthusiastic about their roles. From the set to the music, to the cast, everything was cohesive and worked together just right. The cast and crew are an extraordinary team, working with each other to create this mind-blowing show! It’s at the Lowry until the 15th June, so you only have 2:22 weeks left to get a seat! Coming out of the show, you’ll be left questioning your own beliefs and dumbfounded at the twist. You MUST experience this for yourself.

 

 

Our review on 2:22 A Ghost Story

2:22 A Ghost Story - The Lowry, Salford - Tuesday 31st October 2023 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating

 

WHETHER YOU BELIEVE IN GHOSTS OR NOT, 2:22 A GHOST STORY HAS GOT YOU COVERED!

I must be completely out of my mind!  I am a total wuss when it comes to the frights, and yet I’m at 2:22 A Ghost Story on Halloween?!  But this irrational game that we all tend to play with our own fear is exactly what has drawn me in, and bang on cue I jumped out of my seat within the first five minutes of the show starting.  Thankfully, I wasn’t on my own.



It has to be said that the psychology around a show like this is remarkable.  Everyone is on edge and primed to be scared before anything has even happened.  Heck – I’ve been freaked out all day!  Firstly, it has the whole “Ssshhhh!  Keep it a secret” thing going on, adding an air of mystery and trepidation as to what will forsake us, but also, quite simply, it has the word “ghost” in the title – a divisive and heated topic to say the least.  Everyone has an opinion on ghosts.  Everyone is full of conviction that their opinion is the correct one.  But we can’t all be right, can we?  2:22 A Ghost Story delves into these powerful beliefs from every angle.  Jenny (played by Louisa Lytton) is a new mum, exhausted and overwhelmed by the enormity of her new life and her new house.  After a few nights alone with husband Sam (played by Nathaniel Curtis) away for work, she starts to hear things, things that simply can’t be.  At 2:22am precisely, it starts.  Is it the ghost of the previous owner, someone trying to reach out, or simply the local foxes who like to screech and scare the bejesus out of you at any given moment.



Jenny has spent the last few nights terrified enough to believe that a spirit is trapped in the house, so when Sam returns home and his old university friend Lauren (played by Charlene Boyd), and her new boyfriend Ben (played by Joe Absolom) come over for dinner, her fear has escalated enough to make her share her theory, even though she knows Sam will mock her.  Sam believes in science, not spirits, and his pretentious, know all attitude offers up no support to his terrified wife, instead supplying her with endless explanations and probabilities.  He is not only a sceptic but a cynical one at that and belittles anyone who doesn’t agree with his logic.  As things start to happen around them, Jenny invites everyone to stay with her until 2:22am to see for themselves exactly what she is talking about.  Sam thinks it’s a terrible idea and just wants to get some sleep, reluctant to indulge Jenny’s stories any longer, but Ben, a believer with his own tales to tell and the self-declaration of being a little bit psychic, is fully on board, leaving Lauren to sit on the fence and instead live in a little bit of denial, hiding what she thinks she believes for fear of being laughed at.  As the clock ticks on, lights flicker, black outs plunge, sounds intensify, and tensions rise to the point of no return – 2:22am. 



My preconceptions of 2:22 A Ghost Story envisaged me attending a play where my friend went home with nail marks in her arm from me gripping her in the terrifying moments.  Well, yes  - that happened, but what I hadn’t envisaged or been aware of was just how funny this play is.  I mean, really funny.  It has some of the best one liners I have heard.  Maybe it just matched my own sense of sardonic humour but I was genuinely belly laughing and not only was this a pleasant surprise, but a clever trick too because the laughter made you relax, then……..boo!!  I also found myself gasping open mouthed at the ”sshhh” bit that we aren’t allowed to talk about!  It’s brilliant!  And even as I am writing, bits keep coming back to mind, making me realise the complex layers and lengths this show has gone to in a way that will make you want to see it again through a different lens.  That’s all I’m saying.  My lips are……..zipped.   



The story takes place all in one location, Sam and Jennys fixer-upper house (set design - Anna Fleischle).  It is detailed to say the least, right down to the peeling wallpaper and working dishwasher!  Plenty of warnings are given prior to the show regarding the effects used in the performance, but many of the frights are provided by your own psychological responses.  As well as gaining a better understanding of your own fear factor levels, you’ll also learn about the lives of foxes, why asparagus makes your wee smell weird, and learn a new drinking game.  You’ll hear various ghost stories, see impressive special effects and lighting, and feel a palpable tension in the audience throughout.  I have to say, one of my favourite things was the feeling of “we’re all in this together” and that was felt every time we all screamed, then laughed that hesitant follow up laugh that mixes embarrassment with relief. 



Louisa Lytton, Nathaniel Curtis, Joe Absolom and Charlene Boyd truly are a wonderful quartet.  They bounce off of each other beautifully and continually layer their characters throughout the entire story.  This enables them to create multiple dynamics between each possible pairing, from Jenny and Sam, to Lauren and Ben, Ben and Sam, Lauren and Sam, Jenny and Ben, Lauren and Jenny – you get the picture.  The quick fire banter when the four of them are together is a delight to watch and underpins the inward verses outward relationships they are wrapped up in.  But it is when we get to see snippets of the multiple pairings that we really start to learn the truth of who these characters are and it is people watching at its best.  Lytton allows Jenny to grow in strength and in conviction of her own mind.  It is done so naturally and wonderfully that we perhaps find ourselves placed in Jennys shoes, with a shock realisation that this change needed to happen.  Curtis is brilliantly funny and has excellent delivery of his wise cracking, “I think you’ll find” smugness over everyone else in the room.  He plays the character with affection so we actually like Sam despite his pretentious, look down his nose at others nature.



Absolom is also fantastically funny and the pair bounce off each other with a natural, believable ease.  He has moments where you see Ben trying to control his inward feelings, towards Sam and equally Lauren, and he does so without words needing to be spoken, yet you can see his tension.  Boyd goes on quite the journey with Lauren, seemingly the most together of them all outwardly, yet perhaps the one who is struggling with inner feelings the most.  Through a combination of alcohol, fear and frustration, we see these erupt in unexpected ways, suggesting a volatile and unpredictable nature.  I love that each character has so many nuances hinted at, that leave you asking questions and wanting to explore them further.  It is clear to see why this play by Danny Robins has earned such critical acclaim and won awards for it is far more than a quick fright night.  It is a dynamic and textured character driven play that delves into our primal fears and instincts.  It illuminates a topic that can shut down a room or the closest friendships within minutes, for how do you recover from not being believed if you have seen a ghost or from feeling lied to if you don’t believe, from those we are supposed to trust the most?  This cast, under the direction of our own local legend Matthew Dunster and from Isabel Marr, will pose these intriguing questions to you through an evening of psychological, supernatural and striking screams, sarcasm and savvy know how.   
     



So, whether you believe in ghosts or not, 2:22 A Ghost Story has got you covered.  It manages to unify opposing views through that one word – ghost – because no matter whether you are team Jenny, Sam, Lauren or Ben, one thing is for certain – your response will be a strong and unwavering one.  And that right there is what makes this play so interesting.  It delves into our responses as much as our opinions.  It investigates how the different parts of our brain process things that go bump in the night, and that it is our physical and mental response to this process that is really the key to our determined beliefs.  They say that ghosts fill the gaps in our world, whether we believe this is in a spiritual, physical form or simply in our memories of loved ones, ghosts are never too far away.  Some find this comforting whilst others find it disturbing or creepy.  But regardless of how everyone in tonight's audience individually interpret and view ghosts, one thing is for sure – no one wants to be woken at 2:22am!    


WE SCORE TO 2:22 A GHOST STORY...






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