Review: The West End's 2:22 A Ghost Story at Newcastle Theatre Royal
Highly-anticipated West End phenomenon 2:22 A Ghost Story haunted Newcastle Theatre Royal and our Arts Editor braved seeing what all the fuss is about
Having spoken to the play’s writer Danny Robins earlier in the year, I was excited to finally see why West End audiences have been raving about this show. Having purposefully avoided spoilers, I wasn’t too sure what to expect other than that it centres around a woman called Jenny who believes her new home is haunted, but her husband Sam doesn’t believe her. They argue with their first dinner guests, old friend Lauren and her new partner Ben. But I wasn’t sure whether this was going to be a The Woman in Black-esque fright fest or a more ‘thinky’ thriller with jump-scares. I’d describe it as the latter, but that doesn’t mean it lacks suspense.
Myself and my partner take our seats (which we’re on the edge of for the rest of the evening) and examine the set, then notice the digital clock spinning frantically. That clock ticks throughout the play, leading up to (you guessed it…) 2:22. So I find myself, for the first-time at the Theatre Royal, clock-watching throughout a performance. Deafening screams, clever lighting and a well-written plot mean you’re hooked throughout as you’re deciding who to believe while also trying to work out what might actually happen at 2:22.
There are a lot of clashing topics – Jenny’s Catholic background, psychological states, gentrification, the supernatural and Sam’s scientific ‘explanations’ – which are all food for thought but whatever your beliefs are, this is an adrenaline-fuelled show.
We’re at a dinner party and we never actually leave the kitchen, but with a baby sleeping upstairs, characters nipping ‘outside’ from the sliding doors, into the bathroom and to the shops, you’ve got to be eagle-eyed at all times. In the interval, there’s a lot of questioning – “did you see that?” and “did you notice this?”. But the detail is all in Danny’s script. Everything leads up to a huge twist (which of course we won’t spoil for you) at the end – and what a twist that is!
Eastenders’ Louisa Lytton deserves a special applause for her portrayal of Jenny, while It’s A Sin’s Nathaniel Curtis and Doc Martin’s Joe Absolom’s comedic timing has the audience laughing throughout. The combination of Danny’s brilliantly funny writing and fascinating ghost stories mean 2:22 A Ghost Story is almost an amalgamation of all of his work so far. We’d love to see how the ever-changing West End casts made their mark on his characters.
If you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled night out at the theatre best paired with a glass of wine (held away from your partner if he’s susceptible to jump-scares), 2:22 A Ghost Story is a must see! As for that end scene, and what happens at 2:22, our lips are sealed.