WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHEN?: Wednesday 6 October (matinee), production opens with new cast 4 December running to 12 February 2022 RUNTIME: 125 minutes with a 20-minute interval
This is a review we never expected to write but this production of an outstanding and truly spine-tingling new play is re-opening in London’s West End this winter.
- Read on for reasons including how good pop star Lily Allen was in her debut West End role
It replaces Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror And The Light which closes 2 months early after mixed reviews and moves from the Noel Coward across town to the Gielgud Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue.
The original production of 2:22 marked the West End debut of pop star Lily Allen (pictured 2nd from left above) and she gave a performance far removed from everything that singled her out as a single-minded and unpredictable artist writing her own material and unafraid to speak her mind.
Perhaps it’s in part the influence of new husband David (Stranger Things) Harbour but her young mother Jenny is convincingly sleep-deprived and operating at a level of paranoia which has her believing that there is a ghost haunting her new home while her husband is away on a work trip.
On his return Sam, played expertly by Hadley Fraser (City Of Angels, Garrick Theatre) showing the breadth of his acting talent, brings a scientist’s rigour to the examination of Jenny’s belief that at 2.22 the ghost will reappear.
The pair are joined at an awkward middle class dinner party by new couple Lauren and Ben. Julia Chan’s Lauren is an old university friend of Ben’s and Jenny’s paranoia is heightened as Lauren revels in her shared history with Sam making everyone else uncomfortable during the evening.
Jake Wood’s Ben is seemingly ill-suited to Lauren but has his own paranormal experience to draw on and takes a leading role as the quartet decide drunkenly to stay up until to the titular 2.22 to see whether Jenny’s fears are well-founded.
The show concludes with an appeal to the audience not to give away the twist and, while we thought we saw it coming, we were delighted and suitably shocked by the conclusion which singles this out as an outstanding piece of new material that is well worth your time.
It’s genuinelly spooky and, as we write this on Halloween, it’s a story we can see connecting with an audience in a way perhaps that The Mirror And The Light might have struggled to.
After all, who hasn’t wondered what happens to the souls of people when they die and the debate about whether people who claim to have seen ghosts are struggling mentally or making it all up is an intriguing 1.
Author Danny Robins draws on the everyday like baby monitors, foxes and lights which automatically switch themselves on to concoct a show which had the woman next to me literally jumping out of her seat during jump scares throughout the show.
We’ll update this review when we have a clearer idea of the new cast but refreshingly it’s a show so well-written that it’s the material that’s the star and its swift return to the West End proves that some shows can have a life even after their apparent demise.