Review Round-up: 2:22 A Ghost Story, Noël Coward Theatre.


Noël Coward Theatre.

Press night: 11 August. 

Jenny (Lily Allen) believes her new home is haunted, but her husband Sam (Hadley Fraser) isn’t having any of it. They argue with their first dinner guests, old friend Lauren (Julia Chan) and new partner Ben (Jake Wood). Can the dead really walk again?
Lily Allen and Hadley Fraser. Photo: Helen Murray
This new play by Danny Robins is drawing attention for being the stage debut of singer Lily Allen but it has strong theatre chops given the casting of Hadley Fraser (Les Mis, Coriolanus, Young Frankenstein) and its direction from Matthew Dunster (Hangmen, A Very Very Very Dark Matter).
How did it fare?

Critic Reviews:

 The Guardian  

You wouldn’t know this is Allen’s first time acting in the West End. She is strong as the frantic, afraid and exhausted Jen, though the constant paranoia of her part leans towards feeling strained. Director Matthew Dunster has her constantly moving – tidying, cooking, pacing – though it’s in her moments of stillness that the fear best finds its way in.

Together, the cast are gleaming. Fraser’s Sam is so realistic it’s hard to believe he’s acting. Wood’s part is written more broadly – Ben is primarily there to challenge Sam – but he revels in it, drawing out the humour and diving into the mysticism. Chan does a brilliant balancing act, shifting Lauren’s loyalties throughout the night.

The Times (paywall) 

Let’s be honest, lots of people will have come along not so much to have their spines tingled, but to see what Lily Allen makes of the lead role. The pop star, making her West End debut, certainly doesn’t disgrace herself. Her voice is one-dimensional, admittedly, but in the role of Jenny, a middle-class London mother of a a newborn who suspects that her house is haunted, she holds her own.

Evening Standard  

Robins and Dunster play by the spooky rules, cynically manipulating the buildup of tension then puncturing it with humour: the script is very funny. But Robins also weaves in intriguing themes, imagining ghosts as refugees, homeless people, dementia sufferers or revenants dredged up by gentrification.


The success of the play lies in the way director Matthew Dunster treats it as a domestic drama with ghosts attached. It’s often very funny – there’s a good joke about the way that Alexa won’t respond to Sam’s arrogant demands – and always sharp-eyed. As Sam, Hadley Fraser conjures brilliantly the sort of profoundly irritating man who will always want to be right and will insist on choosing expensive wine in a corner shop. Jake Wood (of EastEnders fame) gives Ben the right degree of swagger with just a hint of vulnerability; Julia Chan in her own West End debut as Lauren, suggests a lifetime of longing as well as a scientific mind sharper than any in the room.