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[Herald Review] Nuanced local adaptations, sound effects transplant suspense of '2:22 A Ghost Story' from West End to Seoul stage

Aug. 31, 2023 - 17:49 By Hwang Joo-young
From left: Bang Jin-eui, Ivy, Cha Yong-hak and Choi Young-joon perform in “2:22 A Ghost Story.” (Seensee Company)

The unidentifiable footsteps heard at 2:22 a.m. and the mysteries surrounding their origin intensify the suspense of “2:22 A Ghost Story,” the title of which captures the essence of the plot.

The story revolves around Sam and Jenny, a couple who have newly moved, inviting Sam's longtime friend Lauren and her boyfriend Ben to their home.

What starts as an ordinary evening meal takes a turn with Jenny’s confession. Jenny says she hears footsteps and sobs around her baby’s room at 2:22 a.m. every day, and proposes they stay up and wait together for that moment.

Ben, who believes in spiritual experiences, supports Jenny. But, Sam, ever logical and rational, tries to persuade them that Jenny's sensitivity is causing her to misinterpret the situation.

Ben, played by Yang Seung-ri (standing), conducts a ritual to communicate with a spirit in a scene from “2:22 A Ghost Story.” (Seensee Company)

The West End drama has been transformed into a Korean-language play with translations by Hwang Seok-hee.

“Even though the play has its own narratives, some adjustments were necessary to transplant the original play’s suspense on the same magnitude. So, some scenes incorporate expletives and modern expressions that are not in the original script,” said producer Kim Tae-hun in a July press conference.

“I thought it was crucial to capture the audience’s attention in order to foster deeper engagement with the play.”

Suspense is intensified through sound, from the ticking of a clock and the wails of a baby coming from the upper floor to the sharp, piercing cries of foxes outside. The sounds create a sense of unease, leaving the audience bracing for events sure to come. Lighting and special visual effects designed by magician Lee Eun-gyeol further enhance the foreboding, unpredictable mood of the play.

“I made some requests to the sound designer not to make the sound effects merely audible, but for them to be felt. We’ve designed the sounds to come from behind the stage and the back of the seating area,” Kim emphasized.

“After completing the script for the play, I thought one of the decisive factors would be sound. Unlike movies which can utilize a variety of special effects, stage performances usually do not have many options other than sound effects." Kim said.

For singer-turned-actor Ivy, who plays Jenny, this is her first stage drama after 13 years of musical performances. She convincingly asserts the presence of the unidentifiable presence and reveals her maternal instincts for her child at the same time, sustaining tension throughout the play.

“2:22 A Ghost Story” runs through Saturday at Sejong M Theater in central Seoul.