full cast

Dinner guests Ben (Jay McGuiness) and Lauren (Vera Chok) with hosts Sam (George Rainsford) and his wife Jenny (Fiona Wade). Picture: Johan Persson

2.22 A Ghost story

Wolverhampton Grand


2.22 is a rarity, a brand new ghost/thriller story, written by Danny Robins creator of the hit BBC podcast The Battersea Poltergeist. It skillfully conflates the traditional ghost story genre as established by Charles Dickens with the current popular appetite for the paranormal.

Touring psychic Sally Morgan regularly sells out thousand seater plus venues such as the Grand, and this play taps into that current audience interest in the paranormal.

The play premiered in 2021 and has previously featured Lily Allen and Cheryl Cole in lead roles, enjoying five record-breaking seasons at the Noël Coward, Gielgud, Criterion theatres, The Lyric Theatre and The Apollo Theatre.

No good ghost story is without a twist, and so it is here. Robins implores audience not to share that twist, and I shall certainly honour that request here.

A deceptively simple single set (Anna Fleischle) admirably establishes the appropriate atmosphere whilst simultaneously conjuring up the odd surprise.

Largely a four hander, events unfold for a married couple and their newborn baby hosting an old female friend and her new boyfriend in a recently purchased old house. Before long equally old tensions emerge and “things” go bump in the night, particularly at 2.22am.

Jenny is tautly played by Fiona Wade who is convinced that their new home is haunted. Husband Sam (George Rainsford) is the sceptic, both to his wife, and the audience.

Female house guest Lauren (Vera Chok) gives a sparkling nuanced performance but it is The Wanted pop star Jay McGuinnes who impresses as Essex wide boy, but surprise believer in the paranormal, who plays his part with confidence, wit and good humour, the latter of which is liberally interwoven into the script.

An almost sold out first night in a cold wet windy Wolverhampton including an unusually strong young audience demonstrated the strong word of mouth following for this production and the star quality of McGuinness which was self-evident.

At two hours including the interval, directors Mathew Dunster and Isabel Marr keep proceedings zipping along. Robins’ script is lean and sinewy and requires close listening attention, however the first half goes nowhere dramatically, a shortfall which is compensated for in spades after the interval.

Extraneous flashes and screams ratchet up the tension, or are somewhat gauche, dependent upon your mood, I was in the former camp. This production cleverly interweaves a strong story with a broader exploration of the paranormal including past lives and table tipping.

I brought along Jane Osborne, the UKs leading Past life Regressionist for an expert view. Jane found the evening authentic, compelling, gripping and entertaining (as did I).

2.22 plays until 24-02-24 and then continues on nationwide tour.

Gary Longden


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