cold hill cst

Persephone Swales-Dawson, Joe McFadden and Rita Simons

The House on Cold Hill

Malvern Theatres


Joe McFadden, winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2017 stars alongside Rita Simons, from Eastenders fame (Roxy Mitchell), in this latest world premiere adaptation of a Peter James’ novel at Malvern Theatres this week - but does it leave your spine tingling and, is there any chemistry?

The 2015 novel has been adapted for stage by Shaun McKenna and directed by Ian Talbot - the fourth play from James’ novels following the sell-out success of Not Dead Enough, The Perfect Murder and Dead Simple.

Set in the modern day, this ghostly mystery sees the Harcourt family move from the bright lights of Brighton to their forever home out in the sticks.

In the first act Ollie, Joe McFadden and Caro, Rita Simons bring their teenage daughter Jade into the haunted wreck of a house. Jade is played by Persephone Swales-Dawson who is best known as villainess ‘Nico Blake’ in Hollyoaks and is making her stage debut.

Back in the house and there are some uninvited guests taking over  and sightings of a ‘Grey Lady’ and a man at the window.

Spooky apparitions, screeching pipes, unexplained footsteps, rising damp and then a deadly past is discovered in the deeds -  ut help is offered by locals Chris, Charlie Clements, who is an IT geek and supernatural investigator, Annie, Tricia Deighton, the craft shop owner who can see dead people and the Rev Fortinbras, Padraig Lynch, whose prayers cause the heat to rise, while Phil, Leon Stewart, attempts to rectify the damp problem but to no avail.

After Act I it was pretty clear where this tale was heading and you were starting to suspect there would be no happy ending.

As the Harcourts delve into the sinister deaths connected to the property, ironing boards collapse, papers get thrown on the floor and a secret room unveils a hidden crime scene. Oh, and Ollie gets a 40th birthday that will go down in history.

The elaborate stage design by Michael Holt and original music by Nick Lloyd Webber added to the supernatural atmosphere with a few surprising jumps and thrills using smoke and mirrors. The chemistry or lack of between McFadden and Simons however was disappointing - unconvincing and awkward.

Do you believe in ghosts? Find out for yourself at Malvern till Saturday 23rd February. Tickets are on sale at the Box Office 01684892277 and online at

Emma Trimble


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