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2:22 | The Lowry

2:22 is both a ghost story and a drama, steeped in bold-red scares and subtle, familial confrontations. It is a tale filled with friction, failing relationships, and the conflict between knowledge and belief.

The parents of a young baby host a dinner party in their new home, accompanied by an old friend, Lauren, and her current boyfriend, Ben. The mother, Jenny, played by Louisa Lytton, is convinced that a ghostly presence haunts their child at the same time each night – 2:22. Frustrated by the arguments of her patronising husband, Sam, played by Nathaniel Curtis, she persuades the dinner party to stay up until 2:22 to know for certain whether or not the house is haunted, and by good or evil forces. 

Louisa Lytton is convincing and sympathetic as the exhausted Jenny, fighting against the uncompromising wall of her husband’s cold arguments. But, it was Ben, played by Joe Absolom, who stood out as the most engaging character. He is the vein of comedic relief in the play, and a trusting voice in antagonism to Sam’s aggressive disbelief. Absolom’s delivery was light and funny, facing off against the insufferable Sam with regaling stories and a charming bluntness. 

The show’s jump-scares are created entirely through the lighting (by Lucy Carter) and sound design (by Ian Dickinson). The loud sound effects are effectively disruptive and disturbing, and the lighting – maintaining an illusion of reality with the occasional burst of vibrant red – eerily illuminates the amalgamated set. Anna Fleischle’s domestic set is a mesh of modernity in conjunction with dilapidation (bare brick walls and unfinished paint jobs shine through the newly renovated kitchen), an interesting backdrop for the conflict between science and belief that the play discusses. 

The design elements were the cogs that moved together to create 2:22 ’s eery atmosphere, while the face of the clock - the script itself – struggles a little to tick in time. The jump-scares are not very well integrated into the play’s drama, which is more conversational and relationship-oriented. The frights become repetitive after a while; with a better grounding in the story, perhaps they would have been more varied and shocking. The ending also felt rushed and incomplete in comparison to the rest of the play. The audience – the ghostly survivors - are gravely instructed to reveal nothing about the ending; of course, it would be dangerous to disobey. But, while the ending was satisfying in its immediacy, it dissolved into frustration after the impact was over.

It is also a little frustrating that in the play’s central conflict, between Sam and Jenny and science against belief, one side is immeasurably more persuasive due to the character embodying the argument. It was difficult to empathise with Sam – even though his viewpoint was the most logical and probably the most widely accepted – because of the unlikability of his character. This places the conflict in a less morally ambiguous state than could have been achieved with different characterisation. 

2:22 A Ghost Story is a multi-faceted web. It is well crafted, creepy, and intriguing, with (mostly) engaging characters and a conflict that differs from the stereotypes of the horror genre. It is bound up in relationships, family, and friendships, and is filled with painful confrontations and unexpectedly funny, endearing moments. If the web was more complete, with a greater focus on building an atmosphere outside the constructions of lighting and sound design, then the play would have been even more ghostly and gripping. 2:22 A Ghost Story is at The Lowry until Saturday 4th November – the perfect spooky season for a ghostly outing – before continuing on its UK tour until June 2024. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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