Express & Star

'An entertaining modern-day thriller' – Our review of 2.22 A Ghost Story at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Following a successful West End run with ever-changing celebrity casting, Danny Robins' thriller, 2.22 A Ghost Story, is currently on a UK tour, and this week it is the turn of the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre to host this much anticipated play, writes Alison Norton.

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Grand Theatre Review – 2.22 A Ghost Story

Robins by his own admission grew-up in a household of atheists which resulted in his fascination with ghosts and always wondering if there was another realm beyond this one.

The performance wowed crowds at Wolverhampton Grand

This in turn inspired his work and of course the paranormal podcasts for which he is so well-known. It is unsurprising therefore that he should choose supernatural subject matter for his dramatic writing too.

An atmospheric venue, reported to house several ghosts of its own, The Grand is the perfect setting for this spooky tale. Sitting in the dark, wondering what was going to happen next was scary and certainly left me with the urge to look over my shoulder on the way home.

The storyline is solid and a very modern take on a ghost story. New parents, Jenny and Sam buy an old, spacious house and happily set about refurbishing it. Everything is rosy until Jenny begins to hear the sound of a man crying and walking around in circles in their baby daughter’s bedroom, oddly at exactly 2.22am. While Sam is logical in his approach to explaining the noises, Jenny is terrified and believes the house is haunted.

When they invite friends Lauren and Ben to dinner, the conversation soon turns to these strange events and before long, its three against one as Jenny, Lauren and Ben believe in ghosts and Sam is an emphatic non-believer. As the evening continues, Jenny persuades them to stay until 2.22am to try to prove her fears are justified.

The plot is intriguing and we knew beforehand that there is a huge twist at the end which no one will be expecting, but if you listen to the dialogue carefully, there are several clues along the way. I sussed it within the first ten minutes. Of course I could have been wrong, but I wasn’t.

Previous casts of 2.22 have included Cheryl, Jake Wood, Giovanna Fletcher, Joe Absolom and Laura Whitmore. This is very clever marketing which attracts celebrity fans who may not normally go to see a drama, but it is also a good opportunity for the less experienced theatre performers to cut their teeth and make the move from the small screen to live performances or show off talents previously unknown by the general public.

The current cast gel well together. Emmerdale star, Fiona Wade plays new mum Jenny with just the right amount of panic, rising to hysteria by the end of the piece, and makes you understand exactly how you would feel if you were in the same situation.

The performance wowed crowds at Wolverhampton Grand

Hollyoaks actor Vera Chok gives an outstanding performance as Lauren who steadily becomes increasingly inebriated as the play unfolds, and it is good to see two women supporting each other both as characters and as actors. Their chemistry was evident.

There were definitely some fans of The Wanted in the audience who had come to see Jay McGuiness as Essex boy Ben, who would not be disappointed as his portrayal of this loveable geezer was excellent and provided the majority of the comedic moments throughout the play.

Casualty and Call the Midwife star, George Rainsford completed the foursome admirably as Sam. His character is somewhat irritating, smug and rather unlikable, characteristics which he portrays to perfection and again offers amusing moments which are unexpected.

Through their performances the cast cleverly build the tension until the final scenes reach near fever pitch.

Grand Theatre Review – 2.22 A Ghost Story

Chris Fisher and Will Houstoun’s heart-stopping illusions are outstanding at creating the eerie mood and ghostly goings on and together with a sublime lighting plot courtesy of Lucy Carter, the special effects throughout the show leave you feeling a little disturbed and constantly on edge.

The action takes place on one set of scenery - the couple’s open-plan home - and through the performers, directors Matthew Dunster and Isabel Marr have ensured the best use of the space is made, although there was just too much stomping, swearing, and shouting at times making it difficult to follow.

When the twist comes, it’s a good one, but if you pay close attention throughout, you should see it coming. Shush though, don’t tell anyone and spoil it!

2.22 A Ghost Story is an entertaining modern-day thriller offering a quite different take on a usual mystery, but perhaps the hype around the play has built it up to be something more than it actually is.

For tickets visit or call 01902 429212. Runs until Saturday.