2:22 A Ghost Story – Review – Bradford Alhambra Theatre

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By Sue Dean, May 2024

An adrenaline-filled night of supernatural thrills and dark humour, so they say? Written by Danny Robins, the creator of the hit BBC podcast The Battersea Poltergeist and directed by Matthew Dunster and Isabel Marr, 2:22 A Ghost Story has been something of a theatrical whirlwind since 2021. Employing an intriguing and original blend of comedy and horror, the play explores the clash between belief and scepticism as secrets emerge and the possibility of ghosts becomes increasingly real.

The stage set is a masterclass in design. A big digital clock with bright red numbers overlooks a brilliantly crafted kitchen diner, still mid-renovation. The set is unusual in that it has a ceiling, enclosing the space and enhancing the feeling of being in a big, old house. Skylights are lit perfectly to create an illusion of the outside world, and a big solid dining table dominates the scene, serving as the focal point for most of the ghostly arguments and stories that unfold. Glass patio doors at the back of the stage lead to a garden complete with a shed, adding to the realism of the setting.

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“Intense and gripping”

The lighting and sound design are pivotal to the play’s success. The transitions between scenes are expertly handled with brilliant red neon lights that dazzle and occasioanally blind the audience, allowing changes to happen out of sight and ramping up the tension as the clock steadily moves towards 2:22. The illusions and jump scares are plentiful and expertly executed, keeping the audience riveted throughout.

The cast delivers strong performances. George Rainsford’s portrayal of Sam is particularly noteworthy; his character’s smugness and arrogance are palpable, making him both unlikable and compelling. Vera Chok as Lauren gives a nuanced performance, capturing the genuine pain and conflict of her character as she is torn between Sam and her partner Ben. Jay McGuiness brings a natural blend of humour and anger to his role, making his character, Ben, both relatable and dynamic. Fiona Wade’s portrayal of Jenny is intense and gripping, as she conveys a woman on the edge of a breakdown from start to finish without ever losing her grip on the character.

The play is both jump scary and funny, balancing moments of intense fright with bursts of humour. Some scares could be more impactful and there is an over-reliance on off-stage noises and sudden blackouts but, despite this, the overall experience is a fun and unique evening at the theatre, offering a different kind of thrill for those who dare to be scared.

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“Out of the ordinary”

Perhaps the greatest strength of 2:22 A Ghost Story is its ability to maintain suspense and intrigue throughout.  The production succeeds not just because of its comedy and scares but because it also offers intelligent discussions about belief, scepticism, and the nature of fear.

Is it a must-see for theatre-goers? I can think of some theatre purists who would squirm in their seats for all the wrong reasons, but for those looking for an evening of supernatural thrills and dark humour, and those who want their theatre experiences as broad and varied as possible, here is something thrillingly out of the ordinary.

2:22 A Ghost Story is well worth a visit, but be prepare to be afraid, very afraid.

2:22 A Ghost Story is at Bradford Alhambra until 1st June
images: Johan Persson


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