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Julia Chan on making her West End debut in 2:22 – A Ghost Story

The screen star appears in the spooky thriler

Julia Chan
© Helen Murray

Danny Robins' 2:22 – A Ghost Story has just opened in previews in the West End – with a cast featuring Lily Allen, Julia Chan, Hadley Fraser and Jake Wood. A spooky thriller (as the title suggests!) about a woman who believes she is being haunted (much to the chagrin of her husband), it will be transfixing audiences at the Noël Coward Theatre into the autumn. Ahead of opening night, we chatted to Chan, star of Saving Hope and Katy Keene, about making her West End debut after jetting over from Pittsburgh.

How was it flying over from Pennsylvania for Chan? "We had to get our ducks in a row quickly, I finished quarantine the day before we started rehearsals – so I hadn't even had time to do my grocery shopping!" But she's definitely hit the ground running: "Getting on the tube, having a commute and a routine has given me a dose of normality that I didn't know I was craving."

There was a downside – Chan's had to leave her one year-old son behind at first because his passport didn't arrive in time: "talk about going to the ultimate lengths to get something in front of people", she notes, adding "I wasn't not going to do this – I feel lucky that rehearsals are so all-consuming and it's so inspiring to be back in the room with people!"

Jake Wood, Julia Chan and Hadley Fraser
© Helen Murray

While the show, directed by Matthew Dunster, may mark her debut, Chan has been pining to appear in the West End for years: "I was living in London for uni 20 years ago and all I wanted to do after I left was to come back and do something on the stage. Most of my theatre experience as an undergrad was in the US, but I was always originally in this business even if it was just to be 'spear carrier number three'. I ended up being lucky enough to get a lot of TV work, but that world can suck you in. So I've always dreamt of doing this."

Chan was hooked from the first time she read what Robins had concocted: "I read the script and the first thing I said was that, no matter how it works out, I have to be in the audience for this. It's so effective and affecting as a ghost story. I was at home and finished it and had to run out of the house to follow my husband down the street (he was taking our baby for a walk) and just screamed: 'This thing is so [bleeping] good!'."

All four cast members come from significantly different backgrounds – while Fraser has naturally wowed in dozens of major productions, Allen is also making her West End debut, while Wood is best known for his work in EastEnders. Chan explains: "We are all coming from very different backgrounds but we're united by how great the material is. So much of the job is done for us by Danny's writing. I think it also adds a lot of colour that it's new for each of us. On top of that it's new for each of us because no one has done it for 18 months. There's an intimacy that surprised me when I first started rehearsals."

Tickets for the show are on sale now.