Last night The Bloke and I were invited to watch a production of The House on Cold Hill at the Alexandra Theatre.
Adapted from the best-selling 2015 novel of multi-million selling author Peter James and based on his own experiences of a haunted house, the play is a ghostly thriller that tells the story of the Harcourt family – Ollie, Caro and daughter Jade – as they move from Brighton into their dream house in the country that has stood empty for the last forty years. As they begin to sense that they aren’t the only residents at Cold Hill, their new residence quickly turns into the stuff of nightmares…
Reuniting Peter James with two-time Olivier-nominated theatre producer Joshua Andrews, the Olivier award winning director Ian Talbot and award-winning writer Shaun McKenna, the play stars Joe McFadden (Strictly Come Dancing, The Crow Road, Heartbeat, Holby City), Rita Simons, (Roxy Mitchell in Eastenders), Charlie Clements (Bradley in EastEnders) and Persephone Swales-Dawson (villainess Nico Blake in Hollyoaks), making her professional stage debut. The production is designed by Michael Holt, with lighting design by Jason Taylor, sound design by Martin Hodgson, video and production design by Nina Dunn and Matthew Brown, and original music by Nicholas Lloyd Webber.
What was immediately apparent is that it was firmly set in the present day, shown through their use of technology throughout with an Alexa, laptops, mobile phones and FaceTime dialogue. The play takes place on just a single set, but the small cast of six are utterly believable in their dynamics and chemistry, with strong performances throughout from all. Joe McFadden as Ollie Harcourt, a former advertising agent who sets up his own web design business, does a fantastic job as we feel his euphoria at living his perceived dream life, and then despair with him as he goes from disbelief to sheer panic as he realises that his family is in potentially mortal danger. In direct contrast his wife Caro – played by Rita Simons – is a much more level-headed character and their daughter Jade, played by Persephone Swales-Dawson does well in the role of reluctant teenager who longs to be back in Brighton but seemingly wishes to be seen as occasionally supportive for her father. Charlie Clements’ ‘Chris’ is perhaps the most interesting – the twists within the plot leave the audience wondering what his real intentions are, although admittedly his characterisation as an IT ‘geek’ was perhaps a little over-exaggerated. The ghostly effects, combined with the sound and lighting were executed extremely well, resulting in the audience physically jumping with fright during the scarier scenes. I also liked the touches of humour throughout – a quip from Leon Stewart’s ‘Phil’ in the role of the contractor to Ollie as he dances ‘You should go on Strictly’ (Joe McFadden won the 2017 series of Strictly Come Dancing), and dialogue from Annie – played by Tricia Deighton – balanced out the rather more tense scenes.
The House on Cold Hill is an interesting take on the classic haunted house story, and will be on stage at The Alexandra, Birmingham from Monday 6th – Saturday 11th May
Access Performance: Wed 8 May, 2.30pm– Signed Performance
To purchase a ticket, visit here: atgtickets.com/birmingham
or call 08448 713 011
Disclaimer: The Bloke and I were invited to see the play and given two complimentary tickets. However, we were under no obligation to provide a positive review.