Home / Central / The House on Cold Hill – Theatre Royal, Nottingham

The House on Cold Hill – Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Writer: Shaun McKenna from the book by Peter James

Director: Ian Talbot

Reviewer: James Garrington

Moving house is said to be one of the most stressful things that you can do. Some moves, though, can be more stressful than others, as Ollie Harcourt and his family find out. They have bought the house of their dreams – and from being town-dwellers they have moved to the country. It’s an old run-down Georgian mansion in a small village, and it’s been empty for the past forty years. Then strange things start to happen, and some of the locals seem to know more about what’s happening than the Harcourts have been told – could it be they are not the only residents of their dream house?

The ghost story genre has been around for a very long time, but The House on Cold Hill gives things a distinctly modern twist. It’s set firmly in the present day – Ollie is a web designer, and daughter Jade loves using Facetime to talk to her best friend Phoebe. The house has modern technology – laptops, WiFi and an Alexa – and writer Peter James has cleverly woven these into the plot. With taut direction from Ian Talbot, the production neatly takes you exactly where it wants you to go – and even if you think you’ve worked it all out before the end, there’s a twist waiting for you.

There’s a strong and believable cast too. Joe McFadden plays Ollie, the former advertising agent who is setting up his own web design business. He’s excited by the opportunities the house provides, and McFadden does a good job as he moves from wilful disbelief through reluctant acceptance that there may be something going on, to full-on panic at the thought his family may be in danger. Rita Simons is his wife Caro, more practical when things go wrong and more willing to believe what she’s experienced. There’s good chemistry between the two and they work well together, each wanting to protect the other from worry. Daughter Jade is played by Persephone Swales-Dawson – Jade is sixteen and would rather be back in Brighton with her friends, so spends all of her time on her phone. More susceptible and willing to believe than her parents, Swales-Dawson gives a fine performance as the excitable and scared teenager.

There are strong performances too from the village locals. Charlie Clements is the village technology geek brought in to help Ollie with his business, and Leon Stewart is builder Phil, surprised at some of the things he’s finding as he tries to rectify problems with the house. Padraig Lynch is the local vicar who turns up to sell raffle tickets but ends up getting more involved than he was expecting, while Tricia Deighton gives a good performance as Annie, the craft shop owner with a secret.

Moving house is said to be one of the most stressful things that you can do. Some moves, though, can be more stressful than others, as Ollie Harcourt and his family find out. They have bought the house of their dreams – and from being town-dwellers they have moved to the country. It’s an old run-down Georgian mansion in a small village, and it’s been empty for the past forty years. Then strange things start to happen, and some of the locals seem to know more about what’s happening than the Harcourts have been told – could it be they are not the only residents of their dream house?

The ghost story genre has been around for a very long time, but The House on Cold Hillgives things a distinctly modern twist. It’s set firmly in the present day – Ollie is a web designer, and daughter Jade loves using Facetime to talk to her best friend Phoebe. The house has modern technology – laptops, WiFi and an Alexa – and writer Peter James has cleverly woven these into the plot. With taut direction from Ian Talbot, the production neatly takes you exactly where it wants you to go – and even if you think you’ve worked it all out before the end, there’s a twist waiting for you.

There’s a strong and believable cast too. Joe McFadden plays Ollie, the former advertising agent who is setting up his own web design business. He’s excited by the opportunities the house provides, and McFadden does a good job as he moves from wilful disbelief through reluctant acceptance that there may be something going on, to full-on panic at the thought his family may be in danger. Rita Simons is his wife Caro, more practical when things go wrong and more willing to believe what she’s experienced. There’s good chemistry between the two and they work well together, each wanting to protect the other from worry. Daughter Jade is played by Persephone Swales-Dawson – Jade is sixteen and would rather be back in Brighton with her friends, so spends all of her time on her phone. More susceptible and willing to believe than her parents, Swales-Dawson gives a fine performance as the excitable and scared teenager.

There are strong performances too from the village locals. Charlie Clements is the village technology geek brought in to help Ollie with his business, and Leon Stewart is builder Phil, surprised at some of the things he’s finding as he tries to rectify problems with the house. Padraig Lynch is the local vicar who turns up to sell raffle tickets but ends up getting more involved than he was expecting, while Tricia Deighton gives a good performance as Annie, the craft shop owner with a secret.

The House on Cold Hill is a spooky thriller with some shocks along the way containing some abrupt and sometimes scary moments. Well written and competently performed, it has some good twists and turns and whether or not you believe in the supernatural, it provides food for thought about how modern technology has changed our lives too.

is a spooky thriller with some shocks along the way containing some abrupt and sometimes scary moments. Well written and competently performed, it has some good twists and turns and whether or not you believe in the supernatural, it provides food for thought about how modern technology has changed our lives too.

Runs Until 2 February 2019  | Image: Helen Maybanks

Writer: Shaun McKenna from the book by Peter James Director: Ian Talbot Reviewer: James Garrington Moving house is said to be one of the most stressful things that you can do. Some moves, though, can be more stressful than others, as Ollie Harcourt and his family find out. They have bought the house of their dreams – and from being town-dwellers they have moved to the country. It’s an old run-down Georgian mansion in a small village, and it’s been empty for the past forty years. Then strange things start to happen, and some of the locals seem to know…

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score

Genuinely spooky thriller

About The Reviews Hub - Central

The Reviews Hub - Central
The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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