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2.22, A Ghost Story

by on 7 December 2021

A Skeleton of Itself

2.22, A Ghost Story

by Danny Robins

Runaway Entertainment at the Gielgud Theatre, London until 12th February 2022

Review by Heather Moulson

“Deer-in-the-headlights moments” were what several reviewers expected of BBC’s young doyen ghost story scriptwriter when his new play, 2.22, A Ghost Story premiered last August for a two month run at the Noël Coward Theatre.  It was indeed given plenty of stars. In fact it enjoyed weeks of sell-out performances in what was described as a record-breaking run.  So confident trepidation is an understandable feeling when going to the opening of its winter revival run.

However, a very late start and no available programme was a not a good sign for a previously successful West End play.  They were not on sale until Wednesday “if I was in the area” – er, no.  However, this was the second night of the play’s reopening and I will assume these flaws will be ironed out.

Finally opening to an effective set of a kitchen cum dining room, the living area half renovated from the previous tenant’s seventies surroundings, things looked promising. Our eyes were drawn to the red digital numbers above a glass door, seemingly giving access into the rest of the house. The eeriness of a baby monitor, a child’s random cry and a back door that often lit up gave us an effective ghostly atmosphere. Especially after the terrifying prologue, that made one look forward to a supernatural journey. 

A neon red strip around the proscenium arch that crackled at significant times turned out to be the most nail-biting moment; though I felt that we shouldn’t have to be reminded when to be scared.  Or maybe we did, as the interaction between the actors fell flat in many places.  Most ghostly incidents took place off-stage and was delivered in reported speech. We, as an audience, did not witness anything until near the end.

Giovanna Fletcher as Jenny was convincing as a tired and brittle new mother, but became so shrill in places that we could not pick up her vital dialogue.  James Buckley, a builder boyfriend of guest, Lauren, became the self-appointed ghost-whisperer, nursing a grudge against the middle classes, and Elliot Cowan as Sam, Jenny’s partner, was over superior.  Stephanie Beatriz, who played Lauren and whom I adored in In The Heights, unfortunately came over as dull and badly needed to project. The subtext and tension between the foursome, however, was tangible.

By the contrived end, and the anticipated digital numbers reaching 2.22, I stopped caring about them and the outcome. Which was sad, because it had such a strong start, but it did fall flat with inconsistent projection. Well directed by Matthew Dunster, it was very tight in places, but unfortunately it simply didn’t get there.  My nails remained unbitten. 

Heather Moulson, December 2021

Photography by Helen Murray (images from premiere)

One Comment
  1. celiabard permalink

    Not one to recommend.

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