Floorboards creak, wild animals howl outside in the pea soup thick fog, things move by themselves from place to place and there is that digital clock that continues to advance but towards what?
These are some of the creepy atmospherics in Danny Robins’ play 2:22 A GHOST STORY. It is part horror and part philosophical debate. It is also part scary and part disappointing.
Set in a Boston neighborhood undergoing gentrification, we first see Jenny (Constance Wu) in a large open kitchen/living room with enormously high ceilings, sliding doors leading to a patio out back and that clock moving ever closer to 2:22. She is doing some touch-ups on the paint. She is also constantly glancing at the baby monitor with a definite sense of anxiety.
After a jolt ending to the scene, we are now back in that same room with Jenny and her husband Sam (Finn Wittrock), a college physics instructor. They are joined by two guests; Lauren (Anna Camp) a college friend of Sam’s and her new live-in boyfriend, Ben (Adam Rothenberg) who grew up in this neighborhood when it was a rather risky place to live
It doesn’t take long before the guests know that Jenny is really angry at Sam. Something terrifying happened recently at 2:22 A.M. in the baby’s nursery and Sam had to head to Maine for a quick trip. Jenny did not want to be left alone in the house but that is exactly what happened.
Jenny, who never really liked the house but agreed to buy it with Sam anyway, now is convinced that the house is haunted. Her anger and frustrations grow as Sam continually dismisses her recounting of that frightening night’s events and allegations that the house is haunted
Everyone is starting to feel no pain from the wine and alcohol being freely consumed. Personal ghost stories are shared. Those who believe get into heated discussions with those who do not. Add some long-held jealousies, resentments over success or lack thereof and a dash of testosterone and soon some intense confessions come spilling out along with the reactions and over-reactions they produce.
I can’t really say much more without giving away the secrets and surprises the play holds in store. Some work better than others and some just don’t really pass the litmus test of logic. This is especially true for Lauren’s actions and comments which sound more like someone held for psychiatric evaluation than from the trained psychologist she is. The men fare slightly better with characters that are bit more believable in their words and actions than do the two women.
In the theatre, getting someone to jump in their seats from a scare is no easy feat, but director Matthew Dunster does succeed (at least for a limited time until it starts to feel repetitious) with the help of Ian Dickinson’s amazing audio work (I’ve never gotten a scare from a baby monitor before), Lucy Carter’s perfectly placed lighting and Anna Fleischle’s scenic design creating a house that can feel benign one moment and life-threatening the next…..and oh, that clock!
2:22 A GHOST STORY is playing at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles from now until Dec. 4, 2022. For tickets or further information visit their website at www.centertheatregroup.org