Can you tell us a bit about 2:22 A Ghost Story?

It’s definitely best going into 2:22 knowing as little as possible about the production, but I can say that the story revolves around a married couple, Jenny and Sam who are redecorating their new home, and Jenny is convinced they’re visited by a supernatural presence every day at 2:22 am.

The play takes place across one evening and seeks to fundamentally answer the question of whether ghosts exist. It’s a jump-out-of-your-seat, spine-tingling psychological thriller, but also a really great night out. Audiences yell, scream, laugh and cry – it’s a good way to get to know your neighbour as well as you’ll probably need an arm to grab hold of for support!

What were your inspirations for writing 2:22?

It was inspired by a friend of mine actually who said she’d seen a ghost. It really blew me away, because she’s not the type of person I’d expect to have that kind of experience. I was immediately fascinated by the idea that different people would react to her in very different ways. Some people might believe her and some people might laugh at her, others would be annoyed by her – this whole range of possible opinions became the foundations of 2:22.

I then thought, what if you distil that range of opinions into a couple, where one person believes there is a ghost in the house and the other person adamantly disagrees. What then happens to their relationship?

On a more practical note, there are some uncanny parallels between my life and the setup of the play. I, too, was redecorating an old Victorian house with my partner that was once owned by an elderly woman, so you can see some mirroring there. Sadly, we weren’t haunted by the supernatural!

Can you tell us about your writing process?

It’s been a totally obsessive labour of love. I poured over every single word of this play for about five years. It was actually the research for 2:22 A Ghost Story, that lead me to creating my podcasts Battersea Poltergeist and Uncanny. I speak to people who’ve had interactions with ghosts regularly so I took some inspiration from there too.

I was also inspired by the world we live in now. War in Europe, climate change, and Covid-19 is forcing us to consider our mortality. This inevitably makes you think about the big questions, with the biggest of all being, what happens to us after we die? That’s the main basis for every religion, but where others found God, I found ghosts!

How involved have you been with the production? What’s the working relationship like, between you as writer and all the creatives who bring the script to life?

I’ve been very closely involved in the production since its move from my laptop screen to a rehearsal room. As we reached our sixth iteration in the West End this year, and as we head out on tour, my involvement does become less necessary, but it’s a project that has been life-changing for me, so it’s always a joy to come back to. I work with every new cohort of actors at rehearsals and am still a regular in the audience. People often tell me that they’ve gone to see it for a second time and had a totally different, yet equally enjoyable experience.

What I find the most interesting is how a different cast changes the dynamics between characters immediately, and changes how the audience perceives each character. For example, the impact of Jenny not being believed is felt differently for a Jenny who doesn’t have an RP accent or a Jenny who is from the global majority. This adds an additional nuance to her husband’s inability to take her seriously or believe her.

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you had any supernatural experiences?

I always call myself a skeptic who wants to believe, but I’m not quite there yet. I’ve never had a supernatural experience, but I have a lifelong desire to have one, I still live in hope!

It’s quite a comforting idea to me that they exist, and I think someone should be able to say they’ve seen a ghost, and not be laughed at, or have their sanity

questioned. I was brought up in an atheist household, but I craved some form of belief and I think I found that in ghosts.

Are you easily scared? What scares you?

I’m a massive coward – I’m scared of turbulence, blood tests, intimidating looking people in pubs!

Bizarrely, I’m absolutely not scared of ghosts, but I find it really easy to plug into the fear that I pick up from people which really helps to humanise the characters in the play.

What will audiences love most about the show?

It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, it’ll make you jump out of your seat – this is a really immersive night out. Sometimes theatre can feel a little stuffy, audiences are asked to sit quietly and still, but this play gives you the license to gasp, scream, and yelp – it’s almost interactive in that way! After years of being separated from each other by Covid, I really can’t think of anything better than being terrified in a big group of people.

2:22 is an adrenaline-fuelled experience that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. I’m sure that all families, couples, and friends who see the show will spend the rest of their evenings haunted with the possibilities of the supernatural!

2:22 – A Ghost Story will bring thrills to Sunderland Empire’s stage from Tuesday 21 – Saturday 25 May 2024. Tickets available online now at ATGTickets.com/Sunderland

*A £3.65 transaction fee applies to online bookings.

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