The House on Cold Hill Review

I am not a theatre critic, but I’ll be damned if I’ll be the only one who’s time is wasted by this dung heap.

A spooky ghost story can work in a theatre, Woman in Black is a testament to this, but this is not Woman in Black, it’s the most unintentionally hilarious experience I’ve ever had in a theatre.

Adapted from a novel by Peter James, this play has a very nice looking set, and that’s about all the praise it’ll get from here on in.

Story

A family moves from Brighton to an old house with many local stories referring to its haunted nature, the father of the family cynically laughs this off, but starts to come around after several mysterious things happen in the house.

Verdict

I’ll say from the off that I left the theatre at the interval, so this is technically only a review of the first half, so it may well turn into An Inspector Calls by the end, and I might one day be elected Pope.

First off, how these actors get paid to act is beyond me. Constantly gurning and playing up to a camera that isn’t there, I’d say that they’re not very experienced theatre actors, but I don’t know who they are, so let’s just say they definitely seem that way.

The leading man has an annoying habit of shouting random words in the middle of sentences, and was the most ‘TV actor’ of the whole cast, as much as some people make it look, acting for camera and acting for theatre are two completely different skill sets, he’s also a soap actor, and without making any sweeping statements, that says a lot.

The rest of the cast aren’t much better, there’s a ‘geeky’ character who twists and flinches distractingly in an arse-bleedingly contrived way of making his character look ‘awkward’ a friend I went with said he could be trying to portray him as autistic, and isn’t that just an insult to autistic people, I’ve met many autistic people and none of them twitch like they’ve shoved a fork into a live plug.

There’s also a hilariously awful actress portraying a character called Annie. I wish you could all have seen her, she was like a robot on low battery mode. She could have been out-acted by a dying giraffe, not that she was reciting the works of Shakespeare, the material she was working with was something you’d find in Stephen King’s septic tank.

It also seems like it was directed by a pilchard with a spike in its head. Characters wander around with no rhyme or reason, shouting their lines with no purpose and waiting for the next cheap effect to spring up, incidentally, slamming doors and flickering lights is to horror what a takeaway pizza is to haute cuisine.

There’s not an original thought in the stories head, ghosts appearing in mirrors and on technology is entry level horror creativity. Last week I was watching an intelligent horror film based around the horrors of identity, here I found myself in a theatre, watching an incredibly lavish production, which was completely inept at everything it set out to be.

So to summarise: horrible writing, awful acting and completely incompetent direction mix up the perfect stew of miserable failure that is this play. I got the ticket for free, and I still feel ripped off.

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