If you like an evening of stereotypes, you’ve come to the right place. The House on Cold Hill feels more tacky tourist attraction horror show than a night out at a theatre. I can’t comment on Peter James’ book, but the stage adaptation simply doesn’t translate.
The plot seems very ‘classic’. New family move into big old house and, surprise surprise, there are a few weird locals and a resident ghost. The only thing fresh about the plot seems to be the addition of the spirits communicating through Alexa, which is utilised well.
Unfortunately the actors are just a little too stereotyped and OTT across the board. We theorised that maybe the actors don’t have microphones so that could be responsible for the loud over-acting, but I still would have preferred softer performances. The family consists of Ollie (Joe McFadden), a web designer who can’t set up his own Alexa, his wife Caro (Rita Simons) who is snappy throughout and seems a particularly two-dimensional character, and their teenage daughter Jade (Persephone Swales-Dawson) who at aged 16 in 2019 still says OMG and LOL out loud…
The family are joined by psychic Annie (Tricia Deighton) and ghost buster Chris (Charlie Clements) who are your typical geek freaks. In some ways it’s upsetting to see characters with a quirky edge portrayed in such a mocking way. They’re portrayed almost as comedic antagonists which is a shame and provides little opportunity for the audience to empathise with them.
The worst thing about this play is there are very few frights. Aside from a few grim appearances from the Grey Lady, it’s all a little dull until the last five minutes. Even then, it’s vaguely creepy and macabre rather than frightening or thrilling. As the whole production has just one set it’s hard to say the set design particularly wowed either.
I’m not sure who this production is aimed at – I can’t imagine thriller fans being particularly thrilled at all and your average Leeds Grand musical lovers will probably cling on for next week’s Blood Brothers.
That said, if mild supernatural drama is your thing then catch The House on Cold Hill at Leeds Grand until 4th May.
Photograph credited to Helen Maybanks