2:22: A Ghost Story review – Lily Allen gives you chills in slick, clever horror | Theatre

Fingernails dig into pores and skin as we watch a neon purple digital clock climb by the night time. With an excellent sense of mounting dread and simply the best variety of jump-scares, Danny Robins’ new ghost story is a slick, chilling romp of a play.

Jenny (Lily Allen) is satisfied the large new home she and her husband Sam (Hadley Fraser) have purchased – an exquisite naturalistic set by Anna Fleischle – is haunted. Each night time, she hears footsteps round her child’s room at precisely the identical time: 2:22am. She insists the sound is actual whereas Sam infuriatingly tries to elucidate all of it away. When the pair throw a cocktail party for Sam’s previous good friend Lauren (Julia Chan) and her new man Ben (EastEnders’ Jake Wooden), the 4 of them resolve to attend as much as see who’s proper.

You wouldn’t know that is Allen’s first time appearing within the West Finish. She is robust because the frantic, afraid and exhausted Jen, although the fixed paranoia of her half leans in direction of feeling strained. Director Matthew Dunster has her continuously shifting – tidying, cooking, pacing – although it’s in her moments of stillness that the worry greatest finds its method in.

FREE HORROR 5724 2:22: A Ghost Story review – Lily Allen gives you chills in slick, clever horror | Theatre
Steadily rising stress … Jake Wooden, Julia Chan, Allen and Fraser in 22: A Ghost Story. {Photograph}: Helen Murray

Collectively, the solid are gleaming. Fraser’s Sam is so reasonable it’s laborious to consider he’s appearing. Wooden’s half is written extra broadly – Ben is primarily there to problem Sam – however he revels in it, drawing out the humour and diving into the mysticism. Chan does an excellent balancing act, shifting Lauren’s loyalties all through the night time.

Robins’ script is sharp, fast, and cleverly layered with clues. Whereas his dealing with of horror is nothing new, it’s achieved neatly, toying with the tropes. In some of the chilling scenes, completely nothing occurs but the grand previous room is electrical with the worry of expectation. There’s an overuse of deafening fox screams, and the arguments sometimes escalate into one-note yelling, however neither of this stuff do a lot to detract from the steadily rising stress. All of the whereas, the purple clock glares at us, ticking nearer to 2:22.

This present just isn’t scary sufficient to trigger nightmares, neither is it grotesque or graphic or gory; it’s extra human than the creepiest horror motion pictures. However there are genuinely chilling moments, scary sufficient that the entire theatre is tense and pin-drop quiet. Scary sufficient that sections of the play have a beat afterwards for the viewers to catch their breath. Scary sufficient, maybe, to have you ever activate the sunshine the subsequent time you hear an uncommon sound at night time, simply to test the time.

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