2:22: A Ghost Story @ Festival Theatre
Time colours the suspense in this bone-chilling domestic drama
Tick tock. If there’s one thing in the world that can’t be stopped it’s the passage of time. In 2:22: A Ghost Story, written by Danny Robins and directed by Matthew Dunster and Isabel Marr, what time it is is a constant distraction. As the spinning digits on the clock on the wall edge closer to 2:22am, we know something is coming, but what?
Sam (Nathaniel Curtis) and Jenny (Louisa Lytton) have invited their long-term friend Lauren (Charlene Boyd) and her new partner Ben (Joe Absolom) round for dinner. Jenny has started hearing strange sounds at 2:22am for the past few nights while Sam was away on a trip, and she’s sure something is in their baby’s room at night. I’m-never-wrong-Sam intends to prove there’s a simple, logical explanation – she’s tired, the house is rattling, there’s noisy shrieking foxes nearby. She’s unconvinced.
Absolom is particularly impactful as working-class plumber Ben, spouting tales from his childhood which give credence to the possibility of spiritual visitors, and fending off overly self-assured Sam’s putdowns.
The set designed by Anna Fleischle is a single scene throughout and feels a little too set back from the audience to be fully immersive. However, it’s well detailed, offering a convincing window into the recently renovated open plan living space of Sam and Jenny, complete with a slick modern kitchen, half painted walls and temperamental tech. Meanwhile, Lucy Carter’s lighting design creates atmosphere and builds tension well. The garden at the back sits in darkness behind large sliding doors and the outdoor security light, which suddenly flashes on at points, is surprisingly chilling. Equally arresting are the moments of darkness, when time fast forwards, the room goes black and a bright red neon frame outlines the stage while Massive Attack's Angel booms through the silence.
As the oddities continue to unravel – windows which were closed have reopened, and the dining table, did that just move or was it pushed? – Jenny laments that they’ve ripped apart the heart of the house and they’re being punished. But Sam still isn’t listening.
An unsettling and intriguing psychological tingler, 2:22: A Ghost Story explores moments of warmth and connection in the relationships, but also points of real disconnect and tension. A terrifying spine chiller this is not, but the crumbs of clues to trace and the relentless countdown of the clock on the wall builds to a compelling and arresting finale.
2:22: A Ghost Story, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, run ended