Photo: Johan Persson

We heard only good things about the original run of 2:22 A Ghost Story which opened at London’s Gielgud Theatre last summer. It’s subsequently won Best New Play at the WhatsOnStage Awards and was nominated for the same award at this year’s Oliviers; it has just reopened on the West End at the Criterion Theatre and currently stars Tom Felton (best known for playing Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films). At the weekend we popped down to the Criterion to see what the fuss was about.

It’s immediately apparent that this is not going to be a conventional play – this is much more of an experience. The production values are sky high, with the clever sound design and a range of atmospheric effects lending proceedings a filmic quality – it’s like watching a horror movie unfold on-stage. It strikes a surprisingly fine-tuned balance – it’s neither too scary, nor too gory; this is, at its heart, still a very human story, but one interspersed with some genuinely chilling moments.

It tells the tale of Jenny (Mandip Gill) who is convinced that the house she and he husband Sam (Tom Felton) have recently bought is haunted, as she keeps hearing footsteps emanating from their baby’s bedroom at the exact same time each night – 2:22am. Jenny is frustrated at her husband’s attempts to use logic and reasoning to explain away the sounds and, when they invite friends Lauren (Beatriz Romilly) and Ben (Sam Swainsbury) over for dinner one evening, she conspires with their guests to stay up until 2:22am to see what they make of the phenomenon.

Photo: Johan Persson

This is a great device, as the audience is glued to the clock as it ticks menacingly closer to 2:22am. This production is much more than a smart gimmick, however; over the evening we’re treated to a quartet of fine acting performances, and Danny Robins’ script is excellent – full of subtle, intelligent humour, and giving the audience a smattering of clues along the way.

2:22 A Ghost Story is quite unlike anything on in the West End at the moment. It doesn’t get absolutely everything right – there’s a shock horror device which is overused, and there are probably one or two too many arguments which begin to feel a bit unnecessary – but for the most part this is a smart, slick show. It’s gripping stuff, too – on numerous occasions there was a palpable excitement in the room, with the audience experiencing a mix of fear and anticipation – this is quite a unique and special feeling in a West End theatre. Horror fans will delight; it’s an absolute scream.

GAY TIMES gives 2:22 A Ghost Story – 4/5

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