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Theatre Review: 2:22 A Ghost Story

Danny Robins’ critically acclaimed play gripped audiences at The Grand Theatre on the 23rd of April. Stephanie Cottle survived the evening to tell BSC the tale.

2:22 has been creeping into theatres around the UK after a hugely successful West End debut in 2021. Since its positive reception the play has cast well-known names as lead female, including Lily Allen and Cheryl Cole, but on opening evening in Blackpool Fiona Wade (Priya Sharma, Eastenders) who was due to appear in the role was unable to do so due to illness.

On this occasion the curtain rose to mum Jenny (company member Rachel Morris stepped in to fill the role) painting the house her and husband have recently purchased. The red numbers of a digital clock glare out to the audience, it’s late. Appearing to have given up on DIY for the night, Jenny leaves one corner of the door frame unpainted (the horror starts here!), finishes her glass of wine and heads to bed. Stillness falls upon the scene momentarily before a piercing scream cuts through the darkness.

The formula doesn’t deviate widely from tales told since the Victorian gothic. What does differ are the ways in which this story manages to permeate the modern world – Danny Robins has renovated the genre.

Time moves forward, Sam (George Rainsford) has arrived home from a work trip and is just in time to co-host a dinner party in the couple’s new home. The mood is not celebratory. The couple bicker about entertainment duties. By the time Lauren (Vera Chok) and Ben (Jay McGuinness) arrive, it isn’t just the risotto that is simmering, Jenny is almost bubbling over with anxiety. Questioned by Sam, she relays events that took place in the early hours of the mornings before.

Footsteps, ghostly cries through the baby monitor and a sense that she was not alone – each occurrence taking place at exactly the same time – 2:22am. Sam, a logical thinker and spiritual world sceptic, dismisses his wife’s worries but Lauren and Ben seem open to exploring further. A few drinks in, the group agrees to stay up ghost hunting.

Despite stepping into the role at short notice Rachel Morris’s acting built suspense throughout. She managed Jenny’s state of mind convincingly, protective and strong when challenged yet frantically alert to the dangers she perceives. It’s a challenging script however, not all of the dialogue flows naturally and the group were often just shouting contradicting opinions at each other. Sometimes the effect was less tense, more irritating. It isn’t perfect.

Some may think of 2:22 as a simple ghost story, the formula doesn’t deviate widely from tales told since the Victorian gothic. What does differ are the ways in which this story manages to permeate the modern world – Danny Robins has renovated the genre. A domestic setting haunted with the ghosts of flock wallpaper and pattern carpets, it’s a familiar and uncomfortable scene for a homeowner. But, as Jenny and Sam sand woodwork, peel wallpaper and fill cracks, a hopeless truth seeps through.

2:22 A Ghost Story runs until Saturday the 27th of April at The Grand Theatre Blackpool. Book tickets here.

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