2:22 A Ghost Story (Touring) ★★★

With a cast including Fiona Wade and Jay McGuiness, the tour of Danny Robins’ hit supernatural thriller, 2:22 A Ghost Story continues…

Noted for its stunt casting, the tour of Danny Robins’ supernatural thriller, 2:22 A Ghost Story has arrived at the Richmond Theatre. After the phenomenon’s success in the West End, and multiple awards, for the past casts, it seems the latest cast has a lot to live up to.

Imagine sitting down on your sofa to watch the latest tv drama mini series that everyone is talking about, except instead of your sofa, you are in a theatre seat and instead of adverts it’s a blood curdling scream at the end of every scene.

With her new glass patio doors, Jenny (Fiona Wade) constantly feels like she is being watched, and you can’t help but feel this too. Her gilet wearing and walking Wikipedia of a husband is sceptical and spends the whole of the evening teetering on the edge of being the reassuring husband, Sam (George Rainsford) and arguing against the existence of ghosts, using science and rational thinking to belittle his wife’s belief that something is haunting her house and wants to hurt their new-born. Rainsford, best-known for his role as series regular Ethan Hardy in BBC1’s Casualty and Wade, who played Priya Sharma in Emmerdale for 12 years, bring a strained, heightened, ‘soap style’ of acting, bringing unnecessary moments of tension and drama to everything they said.

Images by Johan Persson

Jay McGuiness as Ben, open to believing and a self professed believer in reincarnation, brings a well-thought-out, hard-working and natural approach to his performance. The voice of the working-class, Essex builder Ben condemns gentrification and mocks the renovated houses that have been put up in his area, whilst also profiting from their decision to make these changes. His new American girlfriend, and the reason he is in this house, Lauren (Vera Chok) spouts psychobabble from the moment she comes into the house. This worsens as she continues to keep drinking, making it harder to conceal her secrets. She wills there to be something in the house, if only to prove the know-it-all cynic, Sam, that you can’t explain your way out of everything.

Danny Robins has created a strong, succinctly-written, scary play with tension at every corner. As a ghost story, it hits all the criteria, it makes you want to find out what the ‘big bad’ is, despite every fibre of your being willing you not to, constantly questioning what is real and if something lurks in the corner of this house. There are questionable allegories relating refugees and homeless people to ghosts, as ‘invisible’ and ‘wanting to cross the border’. The comfort religion plays on warding off evil and the argument of what is coincidence and what is divine interference is brushed upon, to which the line ‘messianic CCTV’ was cause for great amusement. Robins has a gift for moving the audience between trepidation and elation seamlessly

A haunting piece, that keeps the audience on edge, and one eye on the digital clock above the door, anxiously awaiting the moment it hits 2:22. From the first minute, a scream shocks the audience out of complacency. Yes it is scary but by the fourth time, the shock factor is gone and the audience barely flinches. Coupled with the harsh sound of foxes mating and well timed, motion sensor patio lights, it feels like a cheap way to get a reaction out of the audience. If you are hoping for an intelligent, thought-provoking piece of theatre, this is not it. However if you would like an easy watch of a woman trying to persuade her husband, friend and friends new beau to believe her house in haunted, with a scream, that has no relevance to the story, other than to create an unsettling atmosphere for the audience and cause a mini heart palpitation every now and then you’ve come to the right place.

The ensemble cast work well together and there are moments when the audience members are genuinely pulled into the ‘are ghosts real?’ argument. Torn between eagerly waiting for the climatic 2:22 and out of fear of the unknown begging for time to stop. You are left questioning what hides in the parts of the room where the light doesn’t reach and it is here that 2:22 is at its best, stuck between logic and what we are seeing, Chris Fisher’s illusions are superb, constantly putting the audience in a state of disbelief and dreading what horror awaits at 2:22.

Fast-food theatre, for the masses. It jumps between suspense-filled drama, pendulum moments of comedy and household soap-style, middle-class problems. With audiences confessing to having seen this play multiple times for different casts it feels as if this reiteration of 2:22 is more akin to a TV drama than perhaps others. Like ghosts, this play has to be seen to be believed.

2:22 was reviewed at Richmond Theatre

Chills on tour – ★★★ 3 stars

2:22 A Ghost Story Tour

2:22 A Ghost Story continues on tour

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