2:22 A Ghost Story at Criterion Theatre
Mixing a moving family tragedy with a classic haunted house tale, 2:22 A Ghost Story returns to the Criterion for another successful run. It’s a beautiful script with some lovely writing, and, coupled with outstanding performances, it becomes quite a force to be reckoned with – even if director Matthew Dunster is a bit trigger happy with the jump scares. But this hardly detracts from an otherwise superb play that guarantees a fantastic night out.
The plot features Jenny (Mandip Gill) and Sam (Tom Felton), two yuppies and new parents who have recently moved into an old house, and who are hosting their first dinner party with Sam’s old friend, Lauren (Beatriz Romilly), and her new boyfriend, Ben (Sam Swainsbury). All seems to be going well when Jenny confesses that the house is being haunted by a ghostly presence, apparently targeting their baby daughter. Although Sam insists that it’s just her imagination, they all agree to stay up and witness the haunting, expecting it at 2:22 at night.
The play grows on its audience. With subtle hints and gentle nods at the underlying drama going on, every word is carefully crafted to build a general sense of dread as the story unfolds. As such, it is spookier in the sense of a traditional ghost story and less like contemporary horror flicks – and it’s very effective in its delivery. It’s clear that the heart of the piece is its four characters, all of whom deliver spectacular performances – especially Felton’s Sam and Romilly’s Lauren, who go together like a haunted house and clanking chains.
The production, too, is outstanding. With powerful lighting by Lucy Carter and a gorgeous, rustic looking set by Anna Fleischle, onlookers are immediately taken into the action, and Chris Fisher’s illusions and Ian Dickinson’s sound design create a perfect sense of dread. The only thing that’s occasionally a bit much is the constant jump scares: while the odd one is enjoyable, too many lose their desired effect over time.
But apart from that, 2:22 A Ghost Story is a masterfully written play that deserves all the credit it’s getting. The magic lies in the four very different, complementary characters who bounce beautifully off one another, and in the process deliver quite a number of diamonds. A great success, all round.
Photo: Johan Persson
2:22 A Ghost Story is at Criterion Theatre from 7th May until 14th September 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.