How would you deal with a supernatural experience? One that, in the light of day, defies belief? This is the question at the heart of 2:22 – A Ghost Story, the funny, thoughtful and at-times spooky play starring Ruby Rose, Daniel MacPherson, Gemma Ward and Remy Hii. “The play is about what happens when a young couple with a baby move into this new house,” says Hii, who plays Sam, one of the more cynical characters in the play. “Jenny, my wife, is convinced the house is haunted, and they get another couple over for a dinner party. A lot of alcohol is consumed, a lot of lively discussion about belief and faith and ghosts, and as the debate and the night goes on – as more wine is drunk – things start going terribly awry.”
2:22 debuted on London’s West End in 2021, with a rotating cast of high-profile faces, including Lily Allen and Tom Felton. For its upcoming four-week run at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne, the play’s location has shifted from London to Footscray – and the Aussie cast is really leaning into the local flavour. “We’ve really been given licence to make it our own by the directors,” says Hii. “We’ve also been very collaborative about making this very Australian, very Melbourne version of the script sound real and authentic. I’m trying to see if I can sneak a Dan Andrews line in there at the moment, we’ll see how that goes.”
As Sam, Hii is the so-called voice of reason: steadfast in his cynicism about the spooky goings-on, finding comfort in facts. Preparing for the role has meant bringing some of Sam’s character traits into his everyday life, though he does already share some of Sam’s cynicism. “I love being led by evidence, I love being led by science – the tangible, what is true, what is false,” says Hii. “That’s another really great undertone to the play which is, the value we put on evidence and truth because that is such an important place we’re at in the world right now.”
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One thing, though, definitely sets Hii apart from Sam: a genuine, honest-to-God supernatural experience. “I absolutely have had experiences with ghosts I cannot explain, and I am open to that,” says Hii. “I was a kid in an absolutely empty house, and I swear this house was haunted. Then one morning I knew something was off and all of a sudden, from another room, the CD player turned on and started playing, and it was playing the theme song to The Twilight Zone. I shat myself. I was calling out ‘Who’s home?’ and the room was empty. I went to turn the CD player off and it was already off. I had to turn it on and then off again to turn it off.”
Like in Hii’s own ghost experience, it’s the sound and light effects that have left audiences gasping as 2:22 develops across the evening. It’s definitely the kind of play you want to see without knowing too much going in, but it’s these elements of stagecraft, the flashes of light, bursts of sound and sinister music, that have left a lasting impression on theatregoers.
And according to Hii, it brings back an element of theatre that he thinks has been missing. “At the end of the day, it’s just kind of really fun,” says Hii. “The theatre can be a really cerebral experience, and I’ve done that and I love that, but this to me is blockbuster entertainment theatre. It’s theatre that wows.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with GWB Entertainment.