2:22 – A Ghost Story, Theatre Royal, Bath

DANNY Robins, writer of the play 2:22, is best known for his podcasts about The Battersea Poltergeist and other ghostly topics – his theatrical interest in the supernatural started with a visit to the ever-chilling Woman in Black.

His researches for 2:22 – A Ghost Story brought a host of stories to his door and his inbox, and the play, which opened in August 2021 in London, is now touring the UK. As with The Mousetrap, the producers ask the audience not to divulge the ending, but they certainly flag up the shocks and horrors with a vivid red fluorescent frame for the stage and sounds of screeching urban foxes as background.

Jenny is in the kitchen/living room of her house in a newly-gentrified area of London. She and her husband Sam bought it from an old lady who lived there with her husband for many years. With the house, she left many memories of him – rickety DIY furniture and a shedful of his tools. The new owners have ripped out the window and fitted bi-fold doors, knocked down the wall and formed a large room, and put a skylight in the kitchen …

Eleven-month-old baby Phoebe is upstairs, perpetually linked by numerous beeping alarms and voice sensors.

Tonight Sam and Jenny are hosting Sam’s old friend Lauren (a disenchanted psychiatrist) and her new builder boyfriend Ben for dinner. Sam arrives home late from his three-day sky-watching trip to Sark, and Jenny is at the end of her tether, more so because during her husband’s absence strange things have been happening in the house … and the foxes are howling.

More than that I can’t tell you.

Joe Absolom, so impressive as Andy at the Theatre Royal in March in The Shawshank Redemption, gives another intense performance as Ben, with Charlene Boyd as the fun-loving but heartbroken Lauren. Louisa Lytton has the underwritten role of the fraught Jenny, and Nathanial Curtis is the know-all, superior but loveable Sam.

The story is clever. Neither I nor my companions saw the ending coming. You can see it at Bath until Saturday 9th September, from when it continues on its often sell-out tour.

This is a production for those taken by the faux-climaxes of “reality” television shows and the whoops and screeches of audiences excited by the chance to see television stars and take selfies in the auditorium. I am getting old.


Photographs by Johan Persson

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