Jay McGuiness and Vera Chok star in the tour of the hit thriller 2:22 – A Ghost Story. Diane Parkes caught up with the actors to find out about the show and their own brushes with spooky goings-on.

What can audiences expect from 2:22 – A Ghost Story?

Jay: A couple are hosting a dinner party and they’ve got a young child and the mother is convinced that a ghost haunts the house at 2:22 in the morning. My character Ben and Vera’s character Lauren arrive for the dinner party. They decide to stay up late, drink far too much wine and see if there’s any truth in the ghost at 2:22. Arguments, wine, snogging, crying babies and shrieking audiences ensue.

Vera: The husband doesn’t believe the wife but the wife convinces the dinner guests to stay up to 2:22 to wait for the ghosts. Then we see some very tangled relationships unravel through the evening. It’s funny and messy.

The show has been really successful, why do you think that is?

Vera: It’s entertaining but also has a lot of contemporary issues in it without being heavy-handed. People connect with it on so many different levels.

Jay: The show is funny and it’s scary and it makes people’s hearts race. The script stands up so well to multiple views and that’s why people keep coming back and seeing it again because there are so many things you’re going to notice once you’ve seen what happens at 2:22.

Can you tell us about your character and what attracted you to the part?

Jay: I watched the show and I immediately knew that I wanted to be in it so I begged my manager to get me an audition. My character Ben is basically a normal Cockney lad. He’s friendly, but he knows how he likes things done. But then he is placed in an environment that he is not designed for and I think the whole evening is quite challenging for him.

Vera: Lauren appears to be very loud and opinionated and maybe superficial but I think she’s motivated by a sense of not fitting in and being seen as a failure. I like Lauren because there’s so much depth to her and you see her break down over the course of the evening which I love as an actress, it’s such an emotional journey to portray.

What do you think makes a show scary?

Jay: A key ingredient is anticipation. That anticipation of what could be there is an almost enjoyable torture and then you get the releases with what it turns out to be.

Vera: 2:22 is so very well written and it works on two levels. You’ve got the ghost which is or isn’t coming at 2:22 and at the same time you’re seeing relationships break down and because you care about the characters that adds to the horror of it.

You’re in a ghost story, so do you believe in ghosts?

Vera: I believe that we don’t know all there is to know about the universe. I grew up in Malaysia and, when you come from a culture where there’s lots of ancestral spirit stuff, ghosts don’t seem so far-fetched.

Jay: My stance is that they could exist because, you know, radio signals are flying through us right now and we can’t tell and that could be the same for a million other things. But I think it’s firmly none of my business, I don’t want to find out.

Have you ever seen or experienced a ghostly or other worldly encounter?

Jay: I don’t think I’ve ever had any spooky experience although as a kid I terrified myself imagining things. Going up to the bathroom and coming back downstairs, I used to sprint back to the TV room because my imagination was running wild.

Vera: I thought I had when I was little but it turned out to be monkeys on the roof. They were running around and leaving handprints.

What would you do if you did see a ghost?

Jay: I think I would do what I always do when I’m frightened or nervous and just pretend I was fine. I’d ignore it and hope for the best.

Vera: I would stay very calm but I would want to keep a beady eye on it to see what it was going to do. I don’t think I would be a screaming mess, I’d just be very quiet and still and watch it until it went away.

What frightens you?

Vera: The world ending – just the fact that the world is on fire, climate change and social disaster.

Jay: On the macro scale the amount of really terrifying things going on across the earth weighs heavily on me. On a micro scale the thought of losing someone close to me terrifies me.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever watched or done?

Jay: I watched a horror movie called Hereditary which is absolutely terrifying. It’s witchcrafty and it felt way too real to me.

Vera: I tend to do things that scare me because I feel that I need to challenge myself. I tried doing stand-up and that’s scary, you feel so alone and it’s personal because you’re putting yourself out there for people to judge.

Finally, why should audiences come and see 2:22 – A Ghost Story?

Vera: I don’t think there’s any other show like this out there. It’s entertaining, it’s intelligent, it gives you something to talk about and it brings people together. It’s meaningful fun.

Jay: It’s like the theatre event of the year, this play has taken the UK by storm. I’m happy to be in it but even watching it I felt like ‘this is what all the fuss is about’

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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