"Ghost story with modern twist"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 04/06/19

Peter James, the international best-selling crime writer, needs no introduction, his latest novel “Dead at First Sight” has gone straight to the top spot in the Sunday Times list, and his prolific output of work shows no signs of slowing down, having already topped 19 million book sales translated into 37 languages.

His latest novel to be adapted for the stage “The House on Cold Hill” is currently touring the UK and follows the hugely successful earlier productions of “Not Dead Enough”, “The Perfect Murder” and “Dead Simple”.

This is a present-day ghost story infiltrated by modern technology including WiFi, a laptop and even an Alexa that is woven through the storyline. James’ inspiration for the plot comes from his own experience of living in an isolated Georgian manor house apparently haunted by a mysterious crinoline draped grey lady!

The play opens with the Harcourt family moving into a run-down Georgian mansion in a small East Sussex village the house having been deserted for 40 years. Their teenage daughter Jade is unimpressed by the isolated location but her father sees this as a great opportunity to launch his new web design business. Employing a local handyman and computer geek it is not long before weird and unexpected things start happening with the locals adding to their fears with tales of past rumours.

Michael Holt’s attractive split-level set and Martin Hodgson’s spooky sound effects add to the sinister atmosphere of this supernatural thriller. Heading the cast is Joe McFadden (Strictly Come Dancing 2017 winner/Holby City) as Ollie Harcourt who captivates with an impressive performance, masterfully moving through disbelief, to mild acceptance and finally outright terror. Persephone Swales-Dawson too excels as the typically petulant teenager Jade. A satisfying portrayal by Tricia Deighton in the role of craft shop owner Annie as she navigates the past and present with her insightful darker implications.

Though lacking somewhat in dramatic tension, the astute use of current technology threading through the content makes this an entertaining and appealing production that culminates in an unexpected and shocking climax.

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