Jay McGuiness (Ben), Vera Chok (Lauren), Fiona Wade (Jenny), George Rainsford (Sam) - Johan Persson, set design by Anna Fleischle

2:22: A Ghost Story, Richmond Theatre

2:22: A Ghost Story, Richmond Theatre

This contemporary spine-chiller questions our beliefs on the supernatural


As a big fan of Danny Robin’s podcasts The Battersea Poltergeist and Uncanny, I was intrigued to see his play 2:22 A Ghost Story. He has long been fascinated with the paranormal and while his podcasts followed real-life tales of supernatural encounters, 2:22 is his fictional take on the topic.

For 2:22, the emphasis is very much on people’s reactions when you say you have seen a ghost. It is also a neat plunge in to the lives of the middle classes and the gentrification of working-class neighbourhoods. There’s the obsession with renovations, skylights, dinner-party playlists and asparagus risotto, there’s also the condescending attitude of middle-class Sam towards salt-of-the-earth type builder Ben.

The play has been a big hit in the West End and has seen a variety of actors take on the roles. This time around it features 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).

We are plunged straight in with a red light framing the action, there’s a jump scare, and the stage is literally set for what’s to come.

The action starts with Jenny decorating her new home. She’s clearly on edge, there’s the baby monitor, she’s tired. And it all gets very eery at 2:22am.

And then we’re into the night of the fateful dinner party: Jenny and her husband Sam are hosting his old university friend Lauren and builder boyfriend Ben. Jenny reveals that she believes her new home is haunted. There’s talk of the old people who owned it. Ben, who used to live nearby, has seen the area change. I liked the way it brought in questions over how, in this eager quest to update our homes, we’re ripping apart the past – Ben reflects on how his dead mother’s décor choices were scorned over by the buyers of her home. It’s sad to think of our lives reduced in that way.

Sam is a know-it-all who is having none of his wife’s talk of ghosts. Their baby cries upstairs, a window is mysteriously opened, there’s an incident with a teddy bear. More wine is drunk and the tension is mounting. Jenny says they must all stay up until 2:22am to find out the truth.

The cast do a great job of showing vulnerability, anger, past resentments. None of the characters are all that likeable so it’s hard to root for any of them.

There’s a great plot twist – and we’re begged not to give it away. I had guessed it about half way through the second act but it didn’t detract from the ending. Indeed, I’d love to see it again with that knowledge in mind, to see if it changes how I perceive the play.

Overall, this is a treat of a play and a must for anyone with an interest in the whole topic of the existence of ghosts. The audience jumped and screamed at the right moments and sound and light effects are used brilliantly to evoke the tension. It’s also funny, with some great lines. The atmosphere created is powerful, and the reveal is sure to send a shiver up your spine.

Richmond Theatre, Until 30 March, and touring. Age guidance 12+

Image: Jay McGuiness (Ben), Vera Chok (Lauren), Fiona Wade (Jenny), George Rainsford (Sam)