Increasingly creepy with a satisfying twist, 2.22 Ghost Story is everything you need it to be, from rising tension to moments of shock to a twisty, satisfying, close

Halloween – what better night to head off to see one of the creepiest plays in the UK? 

For all those who see it, a promise is extracted by the producers – no spoilers. Half the fun is lost, of course, if you know what’s going to happen next, and jump scares only work on the unwary. 

Let’s start with the play’s title, however – 2.22 - A Ghost Story. It’s about ghosts, and something happens at 2.22 every morning that new homeowner Jenny can’t explain. Jenny (Louisa Lytton) and her husband, Sam (Nathaniel Curtis), have bought an old house in an up-and-coming area of London. Of course, any area that is up and coming also means the previous residents are largely going elsewhere – the knock-on effect of gentrification.  

Sam is a professor of astronomy, and has returned just that day from Sark, a dark sky zone where he can study the stars. Jenny remained at home with their baby, but has become increasingly convinced that their actions in stripping back and modernising their home has disturbed a previous resident, who is making his presence felt each night at 2.22am.  

Great British Life: Tensions rise as old truths are revealedTensions rise as old truths are revealed (Image: Johan Persson)

Sam, annoyingly loud, bouncier than a labrador puppy and frustratingly certain of his own intellectual superiority, is determined to persuade Jenny she’s wrong, and that everything has a logical explanation. He’s a scientist, after all. They are joined by Sam’s university friend, an NHS psychologist, Lauren (Charlene Boyd), and her new partner Ben (Joe Absolom), a builder who grew up just a few streets away, for the first dinner Sam and Jenny are hosting in their new home. Baby Phoebe remains upstairs, in the room Jenny believes to be haunted. 

Jenny persuades Lauren and Ben to stay until 2.22am, when they can be witness to the haunting – or not. What follows is a brilliant series of vignettes, as we move forward in time towards the moment of truth, where we learn about Sam and Jenny, Sam and Lauren and Ben’s own past experiences of ghosts. We hear a brilliant debate on whether ghosts can possibly actually exist or not, pulling in arguments from both side of the belief barrier, and even through the increasing fury and noise of total sceptic Sam, start to feel more and more tense as the moment of the big reveal draws closer. 

Great British Life: Ben has his own history with ghostsBen has his own history with ghosts (Image: Johan Persson)

You’d think, in a full theatre surrounded by hundreds of people, it would be impossible to build the tension to screaming point, but there are multiple moments in the play when events occur that have us leaping in our seats, with some audience members even screaming out loud. It’s a weirdly gripping experience, the play uses sound and lighting to lift the mood and to silence the space, to pause events and to hurry them along. As the play draws inexorably to to its conclusion, you just know that there is but one single thought occupying the mind of every single person there – what is the truth?  

I cannot, of course, reveal that truth, but when it comes you won’t be disappointed.  

2.22 - A Ghost Story, plays at The Lowry until Saturday 4 November