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2:22 A Ghost Story - Apollo Theatre Review

Reviewer: Amelia Bascombe

A tale of belief and uncertainty that premiered in London not long after the unforeseeable nationwide lockdown, 2:22 A Ghost Story is a supernatural thriller stacked with a killer cast. Famed for providing us with the likes of Lily Allen, Laura Whitmore and Cheryl’s acting debuts, is this play a true spine chiller, or are we left wanting to stay up past 2:22am? 
With notable writer Danny Robins behind the script and Matthew Dunster at the directing helm, the production earned itself an Olivier nomination in 2022 and won the WhatsOnStage award for Best New Play. The current season runs at the Apollo Theatre, having previously possessed the likes of the Lyric and Noël Coward Theatre. This marks the sixth season overall of the play and runs for 18 weeks.

Jaime Winstone (Jenny), Ricky Champ (Ben), Sophia Bush (Lauren) and Clifford Samuel (Sam). Photo by Helen Murray

The premise of the show seems simple; a dinner party of 2 couples haunted by the suspicion of supernatural. Somehow this seemingly obvious plot stretches out into a 2-hour production and jump scares the audience just enough to keep everyone awake.

Taking on the couple at the centre of the party, Clifford Samuel and Jaime Winstone play Sam and Jenny respectively and give promising performances as individuals. Winstone’s final few scenes particularly struck a chord and her emotional portrayal of Jenny’s character in those moments is captivating. The character of Sam is so unsubtle that most of what he says can be thought of before he opens his mouth. Clifford Samuel does a good job of doing what he can with an insufferable character and plays into the know-it-all demeanour well. As a couple however, we are very quickly introduced to their strained relationship, and their differences in logic and imagination. But does this inability to understand each other come too soon? After all, it is 2 hours of live theatre, and hearing the same fight over and over againbecomes repetitive. Sam and Jenny both stand firm with their views and refuse to budge throughout, and yet as an audience, we are supposed to buy into the fact that they are married with a child and never argued before they moved into their new home. As a couple that seems to fight more often than the number ‘2’ is in the script, I find it hard to believe this is the first instance they have disputed. It seems far fetching that a couple with such different outlooks on life have come this far without said difference driving at least some sort of wedge in their marriage.
Alongside them, Sophia Bush plays Lauren, Sam’s friend from uni, and a rather obvious alcoholic. Bush delves into the depths of her character as the story grows and we become empathetic of the hand that life and love have both dealt her. Her relationship with Ben is believable and it is easy to recognise that her character believes she is not worthy of much more. Bush has brilliant comedic timing and I found myself looking for her in each scene.
Ricky Champ is in his element as Ben and gives us the cocky builder character to a high standard. In the first act, Ben is unlikeable and has some disagreeable views on life, particularly on Albanians. However, as the plot thickens, we begin to learn more about Ben and why he thinks the way he does. Champ changes from bothersome, to funny, and all the way to endearing in a matter of scenes. He has taken the character by the reigns and delivers an incredibly solid performance.

Sophia Bush (Lauren) and Ricky Champ (Ben). Photo by Helen Murray

The script, aside from the ending, is predictable and each jump scare is easily spotted before it happens.  The whole dinner party rehashes the same argument in different fonts and the very nature of a simple dinner being so eloquently phrased by each character feels rather forced. The show plays into every cliche you can think of and leaves me wondering whether the production would have such longevity without the celeb cast they have roped in over the last 2 years.

While the shock twist at the end caused many gasps throughout the audience, and I admittedly kicked myself I didn’t figure it out sooner, it seems an awfully long time to sit and wait for the answer. I longed for increasing anticipation and to ponder about differing theories as they dawned on each character, but each time something new came, it was quickly diminished. Sam’s logical and scientific thinking almost immediately explained away every problem and it became a pattern of waiting for his opinion whenever another character had something to say. The ending comes rather suddenly and without any explanation; we are essentially given the whole plot point and then told to go home.
The play’s set was designed by Anna Fleischle andfeatures the same environment throughout the performance. Further creatives include costume design by Cindy Lin, lighting design by Lucy Carter, sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph Sound, illusions by Chris Fisher, and casting by Matilda James.

Clifford Samuel (Sam) and Jaime Winstone (Jenny). Photo by Helen Murray.
2:22 embarks on its first ever UK tour at the end of summer this year, stopping off at landmark cities like Edinburgh, Leicester, Birmingham, and Southampton. Casting is yet to be announced but following the success of the West End line up, we can hope for another star-studded announcement. Tickets are available from

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

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