This award-winning modern spooky drama is chilling and entertaining, with some clever twists on traditional theatre jump scares and a smart underlying story.
New parents Sam (Nathaniel Curtis) and Jenny (Louisa Lytton) are hosting a dinner party for Sam’s university friend Lauren (Charlene Boyd) and her boyfriend Ben (Joe Absolom), in the house they are renovating together.
Jenny has been alone in the house for a few days with their newborn and has sensed something not quite right about the property, with things going bump in the night – in particular at 2:22am, a time that looms over the story and the set thanks to two bright digital clocks.
The action is set in their open plan kitchen dinner, complete with big new glass doors out to the garden – and the very noisy neighbourhood foxes, whose shrieking keeps things nicely on edge, with an automatic floodlight that flashes on to add to the intrigue.
The dialogue is sparky and interesting, as the ever-rational Sam refuses to countenance his partner’s increasing belief in the supernatural, while Ben reveals a family association with the occult that further irritates Sam. Only the refusal of their smart speaker to listen to him seems to annoy him more.
The spectre of Lauren and Sam’s unrequited university relationship also haunts proceedings, with mild alpha-male displays layering on extra friction, especially as Ben’s humble background butts against the new homeowners middle class pretensions.
Most of the scares come from the production’s own mechanics rather than action that drives the plot, with screeches and bright red lights heralding each new scene as the clock inexorably draws towards the titular time, but that device alone keeps you sufficiently on edge.
I won’t spoil the conclusion, but it’s a neat twist and one which, while not a complete sucker punch, is enough of a surprise to throw you off guard.
Lytton and Absolom give by far the strongest performances with neither Curtis or Boyd altogether convincingly inhabiting their characters, but this isn’t a play that rests on the actors: the story and script does the heavy lifting and writer Danny Robins has done a great job.
This is a great piece of entertainment. Go see it.