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REVIEW: The House on Cold Hill

Scare yourself silly watching Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House? Well, you’ll love this new stage adaptation of Peter James’ spine-tingling ghostly thriller! Review by Coventry University journalism student and horror fan, Cally Brooks.

Production photos by Helen Maybank

Shocking, chilling but bizarrely humorous, this new stage adaptation of crime writer Peter James’ creepy modern ghost story starring Joe McFadden and Rita Simons, will leave you terrified but wanting more.

The House on Cold Hill at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre until Saturday (Feb 16), follows the Harcourt family – Ollie (Joe McFadden), Caro (Rita Simons) and teenage daughter Jade – who find themselves experiencing odd, unexplained things when they move into their dream home, a Georgian manor house in Sussex.

Director Ian Talbot manages to scare the audience throughout with sudden movements and flashes, while still keeping us entertained with some much-needed jokes to lighten the mood. I sat behind one woman who could barely watch the play as she sat hiding behind her hands, while the lady next to me couldn’t stop laughing the whole way through!

BAFTA nominated Holby City actor Joe, who won BBC1’s Strictly in 2017, and Rita, best-known for playing Roxy Mitchell in EastEnders, live up to their excellent reputation and keep the audience engaged throughout. As a couple, they have great chemistry, and allow us to experience the turmoil they endure as a family. But the star performance must go to Hollyoaks’ Persephone Swales-Dawson who plays their daughter Jade. Keeping the mood light-hearted from the beginning, she fully embraces the role of teenager and has the audience in stitches. We experience every emotion with her.

As a love of all thing’s horror, whether it be films or plays, I wasn’t sure if this would quite live up to expectations. But, I wasn’t expecting to feel quite as scared as I did. It made me second guess what the next scene was going to be, and I was prepared at all times to jump out of my seat (I didn’t – but I must admit to covering my eyes a couple of times!).

The use of modern tech, including Alexa and Facetime, adds a comical element to the play and the cast’s reactions had me laughing the whole way through. I never expected the show to be funny, so it was a nice surprise and made the ending even more shocking. Designer Michael Holt manages to capture the beautiful, yet slightly creepy old Georgian manor house well.

Expect to laugh, hide and get goose-bumps watching this thrilling production. If you’re a fan of The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix, this play is less scary, but won’t let you down. A definite must-watch but not for the faint-hearted! I should probably warn you that the ending will leave you shocked, confused and terrified to return home – you’ll be checking your Amazon Alexa is switched off before you go to bed!

The House on Cold Hill runs at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, now until Sat Feb 16. Tel: 024 7655 3055, belgrade

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1 comment on “REVIEW: The House on Cold Hill”

  • Simon February 13, 2019

    Nice article Cally


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