Me and the supernatural don’t get on, but a ghost story in the West End is hard to resist, considering all the hype. 2:22 is billed as a Ghost Story, a four hander, starring Louise Ford, Scott Karim, Jake Wood and Cheryl. On the night we went Scott Karim was off sick, so the part of Sam was played extremely well by Ben Cutler.
So here is the story as we know it. A couple have just moved into an old house that is full of history and Sam (Ben Cutler) and his wife Jenny (Cheryl) have been making some adjustments, new patio doors, stripping walls and general renovations, so the house is looking as most houses midway between moving in and finishing it to how you want it.
The house belonged to an elderly lady before and her husband, She was still alive when it was sold, but her husband had died some years previous. The table was made by her late husband and still remained in the house. Sam has just arrived back from a trip away and lost his mobile phone while there. So couldn’t contact Jenny. But while he was away Jenny and their new born baby, Yes Jenny and Sam are new parents with all the stresses that that a new baby brings to a relationship. The lack of sleep and tension between husband and wife.
While Jenny and their new born were left in the house alone, strange unexplained things happened. Jenny is expressing her concerns to Sam that the house is haunted. She is really scared because for a few nights previous at precisely 2:22am, she hears the sound of someone moving around the house. More precisely in their daughters room, footsteps and crying sounds. Sam a ‘non-believer’ in Ghosts, keeps expressing a more logical explanation for these noises and challenges Jenny all the time over her claims. Upon Sam’s return the couple are to host a party for Lauren (Louise Ford), an old ‘close’ university friend of Sam’s, and Ben (Jake Wood) her partner, who happens to believe in the supernatural. Jenny talks to these two about her encounters, with Sam butting in with a logical reason for all she claims as much as he can.
The four of them decide to wait until 2:22am to hear and see for themselves what really happens and whether Sam is correct in his logical explanations or Jenny is really experiences a ghost!
As we took our seats for the beginning of the play, continuous looping music fills the auditorium. Two digital clock one over the door to the living room and one on top of the fridge in the open diner races away. I was waiting for the 2:22 to arrive and then I was sure the play would start. But that soon passed as it raced past 2:22 several times.
Talking of the set, designed by Anna Fleischle and reading the programme about how many layers of wallpaper line a typical wall in a room in a house and how over the years and each layer could tell a story about previous owners, A PIR light switches on outside the patio doors and often screaming Foxes add to the atmosphere. A chilly evening appears outside, foggy mist floats about as Ben goes out for a cigarette. Along with occasional thunder and lightning all adds to the spooky atmosphere. The unique way in which scenes are changed keeps us on our toes and ripples of relief, as a scene ends and we gear ourselves up for the next and slowly we edge closer to 2:22!
The two digital clocks tick away during each scene change and we sit in anticipation as we head towards 2:22am, Very simple, but clever as we are frantically trying to work out what is happening and when will a ghost appear if there is such a thing!
The second half leads us further along to a conclusion and towards 2:22am. More exchanges between characters and the declaration that Ben is a spiritualist and has the ‘gift’.
But this is where we stop. The ending is so good, the twist at the end will spark conversations on the journey home. Danny Robins, has written a clever play. Engaging and edge of seat suspense. But leaves you with a warm, sympathetic feeling and not one of being scared out of your mind.
This was Cheryl’s first ‘West End’ appearance. But I have to say, she delivered her lines with belief, confidence and put on a well-rounded, “Like she had done it for years” performance, She just fitted in. An old pro as were the rest of the cast. A special mention to Jake Wood, who stepped back into the role having left in 2021, was just brilliant. His comic timing was spot on and the stating of the obvious, had me in stitches. How the cast managed not to corpse (Excuse the pun) was beyond me. Almost as if he had stepped on the ‘Eastenders’ plot with his cockney banter and energy. He delivered some funny comments, that broke up the suspense and allows us to relax if only momentarily.
This is as far as I can go. The ending is brilliant. After the play, you leave the theatre not scared, but with empathy and lots of “Oh that’s why that happened”, as you relive each scene and dialogue from the show. Ben Cutler did an excellent job as the stand in for Scott Karim and I was so pleased I saw him. Louise Ford was just great as the party drunk. Caring, vulnerable and So funny.
2:22 A Ghost Story is a must see. Please don’t be put off by the ghost story if you are squeamish. I don’t like ghost stories and there were times during the play, I thought why am I putting myself through this suspense. But you must see it to the conclusion. Go along and you too can join in a lengthy conversation with others that you meet, who have seen. 2:22 a Ghost story.
5 stars out of 5. An easiest 5 stars for any play.
Reviewer Mark Bilsby