REVIEW: 2:22 A GHOST STORY (Noel Coward Theatre)

Do you believe in ghosts? It’s an interesting topic of discussion to have at a dinner party and that is just what is happening in 2:22 A Ghost Story, playing now at the Noel Coward Theatre in London.

Making her West End debut, Lily Allen stars as Jenny, mother to a young baby and living in a new house which they are just finishing renovating. Her husband Sam (Hadley Fraser) has just returned from a trip and they are hosting a dinner party for friends Lauren and Ben (Julia Chan and Jake Wood).

For the past few nights, Jenny has been hearing strange noises in the baby’s bedroom and is convinced it is a ghost. The four of them express their different views on what happens when we die and whether or not there is an afterlife. With not all of them convinced and Jenny appearing seemingly crazy, they decide to stay up all night until the exact moment the noises have been happening every evening, 2:22.

But what will happen when that moment finally comes? Is Jenny crazy or are ghosts real? If so, who is haunting their new home?

As anticipation builds before the start of the show, we admire the gorgeous set design on the stage. A kitchen/living room that I would be delighted to live in! Two big glass doors lead outside, keeping me constantly on edge thinking someone would appear and make me throw my wine over the person next to me. The sound of foxes making that blood-curdling sound and a random human scream when the lights go out is suitably frightening and after the first few minutes, I was preparing myself for a jumpy ride.

But I needn’t have bothered. Nothing really scary happened after that. The same noises and screams were repeated so much that they became un-scary and left me bored, wanting something new to happen. As the time ticked on (on the onstage clock) I was counting down to that fateful moment when surely something horrifying would happen. Well, let’s just say I left the theatre disappointed and underwhelmed.

Popstar Lily Allen tries hard as mentally unstable Jenny. She was a bit shouty and her voice a little whiny which wasn’t great when she had the lion’s share of the dialogue but for a first foray into the West End she made an admirable effort. Jake Wood (known for playing Max Branning in Eastenders) plays up the cockney accent and plays the character as rather annoying but won me over in the second half when his character developed into more than just the opinionated boyfriend. Hadley Fraser is great as husband Sam and Julia Chan gave an incredible performance as best friend Lauren, stealing the show with her Renée Zellweger look and tone.

2:22 A Ghost Story was enjoyable enough and did build suspense well but sadly the ending was very disappointing and anti-climatic.

★★★

Reviewed by West End Wilma