Review: The House on Cold Hill: Some spooky goings-on at the Cambridge Arts Theatre
PUBLISHED: 10:33 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:33 22 May 2019
The House on Cold Hill is an old fashioned ghost story with some clever modern-day twists.
We see web designer Ollie, (Joe McFadden) wife Caro (Rita Simons) and their daughter Jade (Zoe Hickson) move into a dilapidated Georgian mansion that has been empty for 40 years. At this point, full credit should go to the set designers and lighting crew as the difficult task of creating a one-set arrangement for the entire play looked amazing and worked well in terms of creating the right atmosphere.
The play was written by Peter James who based the story on his own experience of buying an isolated Georgian manor house which he says turned out to be "seriously haunted".
The house on Cold Hill is a dream come true for the Harcourt family, but the old building is about to give them some serious nightmares. Strange things start to happen and they soon realise they are not alone. A 'grey lady' also has a claim on the old house and things start to get spooky.
Joe McFadden is wonderful as the enthusiastic and loving husband and father who is desperate to realise a dream for his family. Although, difficult to see past the Roxy Mitchell character, Rita Simons does, in fact, manage to shake off her soap star past and convinces us she is now a middle class mum and solicitor.
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There are some truly jump-out-of-your-seat moments during the performance and I wasn't the only one to gasp out loud, but there is also a great deal of humour, which lightens things a bit.
During one scene, the family's builder Phil (Leon Stewart) tells Ollie a story that his grandfather told him about the house and some of its former residents who claimed to have seen the old lady. Phil says they were alerted to a strange change in the atmosphere in the house when the family dog begins to bark.
And this is where things get really spooky. As Phil is talking about the dogs barking on stage, we hear a dog barking, which as a sound effect seems strange as this happened many years ago and there is no dog in the house in the present day. I thought it strange and misplaced until the interval when I noticed a lady sitting at the back of the theatre with her guide dog. She had a large crowd of people around her and told them that just at the moment that Phil talked about the dogs barking, her dog barked. Now that was spooky.
The producers have asked reviewers not to go into too much detail about the storyline to avoid spoiling the many twists and surprises.
The House on Cold Hill is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until May 25. Tickets from the box office on: 01223 503333.
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