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Catch a ghost live
Or maybe it should be “watch” or “look for” instead of “catch” in the case of SRT’s staging of 2:22 – A Ghost Story
I love scary movies, so I look forward to seeing a new one every time. I still go back to the classics too.
I don’t just go for movies, though; I’m open to series and theatre productions as well. So it’s cool to discover that the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) will be staging 2:22 – A Ghost Story beginning 15th August 2023.
2:22 – A Ghost Story by writer Danny Robins premiered at the West End in 2021, and has been playing in different venues across the UK.
It’s about a couple – one convinced that their new house is haunted while the other doubts it – who’s about to find out (along with their two dinner guests) if there really is something sinister and supernatural going on when the clock strikes at (yes, you guessed it) 2:22.
It’s won awards and gotten a lot of praise, and for good reason. If, like me, you like horror or thrillers, these are just some of the elements about 2:22 – A Ghost Story that I think will excite you.
The thrill of 2:22 – A Ghost Story
#1 There’s humour in it
Daniel Jenkins, SRT deputy artistic director and director of 2:22 – A Ghost Story, shares what it’s like to prepare for it.
“It’s a wonderful script and I have a great cast, so it’s been great fun working out how we were going to tell the story, build the tension, and create the ghostly magic that happens on stage. The play is also very funny, so we’ve had lots of laughs along the way.”
#2 Their strategies to make the audience scared, riveted and in suspense works
And they work well.
“Theatres are atmospheric places, filled with the memories of past productions, actors and audiences, so I think they can intrinsically have a slightly unnerving, exciting feeling, although fear is something we rarely feel when watching a show,” says Daniel.
“There are several tactics the play uses to try and build the tension, from the obvious jump scares to the slow building of tension as the clock clicks down to 2:22. There’s also lots of humour to help relieve the tension, as well as tricking the audience into relaxing, before hitting them with a spooky surprise!
“I think we all like being scared a little, and feeling our endorphins rise within the knowledge that we are in a safe environment and not actually in any real danger is very appealing,” he observes.
#3 There’s a scene that you need to watch out for
Daniel reveals it as… the one with the séance.
“It’s one of my favourites,” he admits. “Not only does it build the tension and suspense brilliantly, it also has some magical theatrical surprises that will hopefully shock and surprise our audience.
“And, of course, the twist at the end is a satisfying and scary shock.” (Brilliant – now we’re all left hanging! All the more reason to watch the show.)
#4 There’s a hidden message and lesson
Not just in 2:22 – A Ghost Story in particular, but in ghost stories in general.
“2:22 – A Ghost Story doesn’t provide any clear answers on whether or not ghosts actually exist; rather it opens the door to debate and discussion,” says Daniel.
“The belief that there’s something beyond our understanding, something beyond death, a way for those who have passed to revisit us and interact with our world, can be powerful, terrifying and deeply moving. In the chaotic world we live in, we may search for meaning, structure, and an understanding and explanation of human existence. Paranormal or supernatural phenomena may help to provide that.
“The belief that there must be something beyond death is very appealing. And maybe we all need a little of the unknown in our lives. If everything can be explained away with science, then the mystery and magic will be lost.”
#6 The way it’s told and presented matters
Daniel has some tips for reading, choosing and surviving ghost stories too.
• Atmosphere and mood are everything
“Creating the best environment is vital to gain the audience’s attention and ensuring that their focus is only on you and the story. The right location, time and lighting can really aid in creating a spooky atmosphere,” he explains.
• Use elements of reality
“You also need to choose a story that’s grounded in truth, something that appears true and is accessible to the listener – a story that they can relate to either through experience or location.”
• Inject every bit of thought and emotion into it
“Telling the story with conviction, belief and intensity, really taking it very seriously, will allow the listeners’ imagination to really take hold as they begin to believe they see shapes in shadows, hear ghostly noises, or even feel spectral hands upon them. Do it right and you'll give your friends an unforgettable and unique evening’s entertainment. Just don't ask if they had to sleep with the lights on afterwards.”
Finally: What happens at 2:22?
“I think our audiences should come expecting an entertaining and exciting night at the theatre. It really is a genre that we rarely see on stage so if we can create the right atmosphere of anticipation, audiences will be in for a great night out,” he says.
“But don’t worry – the play isn’t a horror, or too scary. It’s more of a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the clock ticks down to 2:22, and the final twists and turns are revealed.
“Everyone at SRT has worked so hard to create this production and I’m so excited to share this story with a Singaporean audience.”
Do you have to believe in ghosts (or at least the possibility they exist) to enjoy 2:22 – A Ghost Story?
Not necessarily. In fact, when Daniel hears the term “ghost story”, what comes to mind?
“I’m a huge sceptic when it comes to ghosts; however, I do like a good ghost story,” he answers.
“When I think of a ghost story, I imagine something that will excite, entertain and keep me on the edge of my seat with a few twists, turns and surprises along the way!”
A lot of us probably feel the same. Do we agree with the kind of ghost stories (or movies or shows) that Daniel loves too?
“Surprisingly, I’m not a huge lover of jump-scare horror. I prefer something that’s a little more nuanced and thriller-like,” he says.
“I have a very vivid imagination, so it really doesn’t take much for me to be overthinking and imagining all sorts of ghostly scenarios. Despite this, the thrill that one gets from being scared and the expectation ghost stories can bring are very appealing.”
All-time favourite ghost stories: What would you recommend?
To prepare you for 2:22 – A Ghost Story in Singapore – and inspire you to pursue other thrillers afterwards – Daniel has a few suggestions.
#1 The Ring (the Japanese version)
“One of the scariest movies I watched that terrified me and stayed with me for weeks after was the original Japanese version of The Ring! I haven’t been in Asia long at that time, so I was unfamiliar with Asian horror. I found the film’s imagery, sound effects and, of course, the Pontianak-like ghost, terrifying!
“I always find the more mundane ghost stories the most effective, ones that I can relate to, in domestic settings with ordinary people. As an actor and director with a vivid imagination, I enjoy placing myself in the story and imagining what it would be like if these things actually happened.”
“I’m also a fan of short fiction, and some of the most effective scary stories can be the most succinct and effective. One of my favourites is Monsters Don’t Eat Children.” It’s a quick and enjoyable read! Click here.