Gielgud Theatre, London
Written by Danny Robins
Directed by Matthew Dunster
The significance of time in this play is vividly portrayed from the outset as a large digital clock suspended from the ceiling, rapidly ticking up towards the titular time. The audience is painfully greeted with a chilling scream and pitch darkness.. the play finally begins. Such an opening sequence sets the scene for what is a tension-filled, spine-chilling, heart-pumping thrill of a night.
In the latest casting of this supernatural thriller, Giovanna Fletcher is Jenny, an anxious new mother, who only gets more hysterical and desperate as the play progresses, fearing for the safety of her 11 month old baby, Phoebe.
Jenny’s care for her daughter provides a human touch, with the audience following her ever increasing fear as the play evolves. While her performance is slightly marred by scenes filled with her screaming, overall this is a solid performance from Fletcher, her first foray on stage since 2017.
Alongside Fletcher is Elliot Cowan as her husband Sam, a matter of fact, patronising man who does not believe his wife’s concerns that their house is haunted, with not even their Alexa wanting to listen to his egotistical drawl.
Bringing the humour amongst the scares are the hilarious Ben (James Buckley) and Lauren (Stephanie Beatriz). The two get drunk and try to diffuse the awkward arguments between Jenny and Sam at the dinner party. They provide a misleading perception that all is going to be well through their reassurances and relatability, but this only serves to create an even more jittery story.
Throughout the show, there were moments of pure silence from the audience. This is testament to how great both the actors and the set create suspense. Fox screams are heard numerous times, as well as baby Phoebe crying from her room upstairs. We are never shown more than the 4 characters on stage in the kitchen, but the dimly lit stage and the partially open doors creates a ghostly atmosphere where we can never see what is happening upstairs, nor what is happening outside.
An interesting choice of mise-en-scène deploys a baby monitor. Thus the audience can hear baby Phoebe in the interval, but also when the characters go upstairs off stage to console the infant. The lack of visuals of the baby, combined with the straining to hear through a grainy baby monitor only serves to whip imaginations into a frenzy.
There are intervals of loud scream jump-scares that have no significance to the story and signify a small break in the play, these are cheap devices for thrills and not entirely necessary. The play is at its best building tension and unease through the characters.
Overall an enjoyable supernatural thriller with plenty of genuine scares and an ending that will leave you reeling.
Runs until 12th February 2022
Photo credit: Helen Murray