2:22 A Ghost Story is West End’s Newest Jump Scare

June 23, 2024

You would think horror and thriller are meant for a visual screen format, but not '2:22 A Ghost Story' showing in Gielgud Theatre. The story starts with a young couple, Jenny (Stacey Dooley) and Sam (Joe McFadden), who move into a new house Jenny believes is haunted. Every 2:22 AM, Jenny hears noises and sees a ghostly figure. On the other hand, Sam rationalizes that the strange occurrences might just be Jenny's hallucinations. They invited their friends Lauren and Ben over for dinner, Ben being more open-minded about the paranormal than Lauren. The group decides to stay together until 2:22 AM to investigate and uncover what's happening. 

Stacey Dooley as Jenny and Joe McFadden as Sam in 2:22 A Ghost Story. Photo by Helen Murray.

A seemingly simple plot you thought couldn't scare you but can give you jump scares and delve into the semantics of the word "ghost." The narrative tackles the themes of grief, loss, and the afterlife. It explores the conflict of the paranormal in the fields of science and faith, the belief that these ghosts exist (which, in the play, may mean a ghost from the past or a spiritual being), and the complexities of relationships and hidden truths (another meaning ghost may take on in the play).

James Buckley as Ben in 2:22 A Ghost Story. Photo by Helen Murray.

The combination of characters and the actors who powerfully portrayed them are contrasting. Jenny is a young mother who many might relate to for being vulnerable in facing the natural. At the same time, her husband, on the other hand, is the type who is leaning towards being cerebral, making him insufferable and more cliche than the others. The interesting pair of Lauren and Ben surprises the audience by being more complex than what meets the eye. Lauren strikes more unlikeable and jealous, while Ben may be considered the emotional linchpin of the play, surprisingly, with more layers to his personality.

Donna Air as Lauren, James Buckley as Ben, Stacey Dooley as Jenny, and Joe McFadden as Sam in 2:22 A Ghost Story. Photo by Helen Murray.

Combining the strong performances of the actors, the set, and the effects, the production emits a chilling atmosphere vital to any horror and thriller work. The intricate details of the set may be easy to miss but are loaded with clues to the plot's background and characters. The intelligent use of the clock on the wall gives the audience a focus, something to help them track the events and look forward to the plot. 

Donna Air as Lauren and James Buckley as Ben in 2:22 A Ghost Story. Photo by Helen Murray.

The plot seems to be predictable as the play progresses. It was ambitious in tackling themes of life and death, but it felt like it only touched the surface level of the discussion, and there's still potential to explore deeper. Despite the plot's predictability, the ending has this satisfying twist that may leave the audience feeling jarred, unresolved, and confused. Overall, the play is a commercial success, having multiple runs in West End, celebrity castings, and garnering critical acclaim.

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