Reviews are coming in for the latest production of 2:22 A Ghost Story at the Lyric Theatre in the West End, starring Cheryl.
Pop star and former Girls Aloud’s Cheryl stars as Jenny in the spooky play, alongside Jake Wood (EastEnders) as Ben, Scott Karim (The Invisible Hand) as Sam and Louise Ford (Crashing, The Windsors) as Lauren.
The supernatural thriller is written by Danny Robins with direction by Matthew Dunster, and has set designs by Anna Fleischle, costume design by Cindy Lin, lighting design by Lucy Carter, sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph Sound, casting by Jessica Ronane CDG and illusions by Chris Fisher, co-direction by Isabel Marr.
Check out reviews, below, from the Telegraph, Times, Evening Standard and more.
More reviews to follow.
2:22 A Ghost Story is playing at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue until 23 April 2023.
Book tickets to 2:22 A Ghost Story at the Lyric Theatre in London
2:22 A Ghost Story reviews
"Cheryl spirits up new possibilities in gripping debut"
"Cheryl, it says on the billboards outside the Lyric, the name spiriting to life a teasingly clever and deservedly lucrative spine-tingler"
"Could it be that even diehard fans need persuading that she’s got what it takes? Were those of us witnessing her latest move perhaps in for the kind of toe-curling artistic overreach that has caused Simon Cowell (not in the house last night) and co to drop jaws over the years? Actually it’s no fright night in that respect. She proves a class act and - whisper it - is even the most understated player on stage."
"The odd sweary moment aside, the concerted restraint helps accentuate how much this alarmed, alone feeling creature is trying to keep a lid on things. And the aura of withheld concern contrasts well with the jolting screams caused by rampant foxes outside and fraying nerves within."
".. without getting too carried away, it’s Cheryl – whoo-hoo – who has opened a portal to another world of possibility. "
"Haunted Cheryl makes a confident West End debut"
"Danny Robins’s gripping ghost story is as verbally spiky as it is psychologically astute; little wonder that such celebrities as Lily Allen, the Love Island host Laura Whitmore and now Cheryl have raced to recreate its visceral thrills."
"Yet Cheryl transcends the fact that she arrives on stage pursued by celebrity glitter...If there’s a concern it’s that she’s a little too understated, but then between the screaming fox sex and the more inexplicable bumps in the night supernatural tensions rise and Cheryl proves herself more than able to ride the emotional rollercoaster."
"It helps that Matthew Dunster’s taut, pacy production features a cast with the punch and attitude of, well, a breast milk slammer, who deliver a gripping account of Robins’s ice-down-the-spine story."
"Cheryl emerges from the ectoplasm with more than the ghost of a chance of taking her stage career further."
"Cheryl delivers a dose of pure star power"
"This play still compels, entertains and unnerves despite occasionally off-key performances"
"But is Cheryl any good? Actually, yes: certainly good enough to bring a new crowd to this superior, remorselessly effective spine-chiller. Admittedly, sometimes you stop noticing her genuine emotional range or her slightly overemphatic gestures and simply gawp."
"[Jake Wood] and Louise Ford’s Lauren generate a sparky tension. The central relationship has got coarser and shoutier, though, and it’s mostly not down to Cheryl. Sam should be a subtle, charming underminer but Scott Karim makes him a hectoring boor. Jenny should’ve fled long before the ghostly footsteps arrived."
"It’s a minor shame because the play still compels, entertains and unnerves. It’s well placed to become the West End’s spookiest long-runner once the Woman in Black closes. And it’s become the sort of pro-celebrity vehicle that Chicago the musical formerly was, a place where those well-known in other fields can take a usually successful punt on acting (much to the disgust of the professionally trained and underemployed). In Cheryl’s case, it absolutely pays dividends."
"Cheryl’s West End debut is a thunderous fright night"
"The singer is convincing in the role (first played by Lily Allen) of a mother who hears spooky noises at night in Danny Robins’ well-oiled, blackly comic chiller"
"[The show] is also becoming a launchpad for singers who fancy treading the boards. First came Lily Allen’s feted tenure; now Cheryl makes her debut in the glare of the West End. As her own X Factor moment, it is respectable enough for a first go, if blunt-edged: big on volume and sudden, thunderous anger. In fairness, the others are just as shouty."
"Still directed by Matthew Dunster, it feels like a dark comedy, verging on farce. It is the stagecraft – flashes of red lights, creepy mood music, razor jolts of sound – that makes us jump in lieu of the drama itself."
"The production ultimately succeeds not because of its ramped up comedy but in spite of it. It will surely win audiences once again: it has entertainment value, and there are intelligent discussions about gentrification which bring depth to the ghost story as well. But there is the sense here that having become such a machine, it risks losing its heart."
"Cheryl the actor has arrived – and she’s frightfully good"
"The Geordie pop princess makes an impressive West End debut in Danny Robins’ spooky tale"
"Her [Cheryl's] performance is all the more impressive, given the clichéd dialogue that makes up Danny Robins’ script. A lot of the time, the cast are required to shout at each other, the strain on Cheryl’s vocal cords audible."
"But for its faults, I can’t deny the enjoyment I got out of 2:22, which is far funnier than it is scary."
"Cheryl appears completely at home"
"You can practically hear the critics sharpening their fangs – but to get straight to the point: hers is not the worst performance the West End has seen. It’s not even the worst performance in the West End right now. In fact, there are many moments when it’s not the worst performance on stage. Quite often, she appears completely at home, and her carefully restrained anxiety that there’s a ghost haunting her baby is the most captivating thing about the show. "
"... she’s [Cheryl's] got a great sense of comic timing in the verbal spars with her husband, swapping frightened, frowning innocence for eye-rolls and mild scorn. She’s a bit nought-to-a-hundred in that delivery, going straight from restraint to screaming in her husband’s face, but to be fair, overwrought screaming isn’t a problem exclusive to Cheryl. There’s way too much shouting, way too early from the ensemble..."
"Cheryl nails the laughs but not the terror in her West End debut"
"Can she act? Sort of. The former Girls Aloud singer has great comic timing but struggles to convince in the spookier moments"
"So is she any good? Well, her oh so immaculate appearance and Geordie accent mean she never feels like anyone else but Cheryl: she certainly doesn’t feel like Jenny, the harried schoolteacher with a new baby she’s playing here. But she’s got great comic timing, landing big laughs with putdowns aimed at her smug husband"
"It’ll probably continue to tick along nicely when manned with whatever unlikely star casting comes next (Dua Lipa? Carol Vorderman? who knows!). But if you want a drama that’ll harrow the very depths of your soul, then keep searching."
"Cheryl shines in her spooky West End debut"
"2:22 A Ghost Story review. Cheryl leads a first class cast in a thrilling haunt of a play that keeps you gripped until the clock finally reaches its titular time."
"... we can safely say the former Girls Aloud singer is convincing as Jenny"
"2:22 A Ghost Story is gripping throughout, exploring themes of class, relationships, science and religion. It’s more chilling than it is an actual scary horror, but there’s plenty of edge-of-your-seat tension and a surprising amount of laugh-out-loud moments."
"Pop star Cheryl puts in a perfectly solid acting performance in the latest iteration of the durable West End chiller"
"Anyway: Cheryl! Can she act? The bottom line is she can act enough."
"The role of Jenny, a stressed-out new mum convinced that her fixer-upper is haunted by an entity that tramps around her daughter’s room at 2:22 every morning, is not exactly Hedda Gabler. You can kind of play it as yourself: Cheryl’s Jenny sounds exactly like Cheryl and has a gentle demeanor that occasionally erupts into shouty rage; Allen’s was posher, colder and more forceful."
"But at the end of the day acting skills are required: this isn’t an inept or embarrassing performance from Cheryl... But it’s definitely not a show-stopping turn, and your enjoyment of the night will definitely hinge on how much you enjoy the actual play."
"Now it is former Girls Aloud singer Cheryl’s turn to get spooked. She does a good job: she’s convincingly scared rigid and furious at her super-rational husband, Sam, who dismisses her fears. The main flaw in her performance is a tendency to swoop between extremes of mood and volume. That’s true elsewhere too: it’s all a bit overpitched, with Scott Karim’s Sam so obnoxious that you struggle to understand what Jenny ever saw in him."
"It’s still a very entertaining evening, however, with Robins’ text and Matthew Dunster’s staging laced with hints, red herrings and Gothic tropes."
"It’s a chilling modern classic"
"The pop singer proves the snoots were wrong in her West End debut."
"This domestic chiller is part Blithe Spirit, part Gaslight."
"I first saw this play in 2021 with Lily Allen in the lead. Returning to shows is generally a bore. Not this time. Maybe they have sharpened it, or maybe one appreciates the writing more on a second visit. Danny Robins has penned a modern classic."
"By the end my thighs were tingling with goose pimples. There are laughs, too, and artful comment on modern class politics. Cheryl needs to watch her projection, but she moves easily on stage and those cheekbones are a wonder. The performance creaks only when Jenny has to shout at Sam and her finger-wagging becomes cartoonish. Otherwise she is not at all bad. The snoots were wrong."