The House on Cold Hill is a play based on a novel by Peter James currently touring the UK. The story follows a young family as they settle into their very old new home, the ominously named “Cold Hill House”, not knowing that the house is haunted. There’s a psychic, a séance, a priest who refuses to perform an exorcism and an Amazon Alexa with a mind of its own. That’s the jist anyway.
Overall I didn’t really enjoy this show. The dialogue was ok but the lines given to the teenage girl made her sound more like a caricature than a real living, breathing 21st century teen. Or, you could say, she sounded just like how a middle-aged man might imagine a 16-year-old of 2019 might talk. The plot itself wasn’t all that compelling either, I think ghost stories in general are usually quite predictable and this show served as a reminder of that for me.
There were also a few odd moments where it would seem they were hinting at some information that would come in handy later but then there would be no pay-off. Unlike most stories where if something seems like foreshadowing it probably is, in this story, it’s mostly not. Who was the mystery other bidder on the house? Who knows and don’t worry it’s not important because it won’t come up again. Why is the family’s techie friend repeatedly warning them against using an obvious Wi-Fi password in this scene? Forget it, it’s not important.
There were moments of true potential with this show. The use of the technology with the Alexa and laptop playing up in a ghostly way was fairly spooky and could have given this show a really unique modern twist on the classic haunted ghost narrative but they didn’t use this enough for it to feel important. There was a moment when the whole family managed to convince themselves their techie friend who also happened to be obsessed with ghosts was behind their Alexa’s creepy messages despite the fact two of out of the three family members had themselves come face-to-face with the ghost at this point.
The tour is nearly finished anyway but I think it’s fairly obvious this isn’t a show I’d really recommend. I think if you like a simple ghost story with the odd laugh and you’re not too bothered about originality then go for it. It’s not something I’d be rushing back to see again though. There’s a different Hill House that I find much more interesting and I can watch that from the comfort of my home (and behind a pillow) on Netflix instead.