The Mill on Sonning
3 Stars ⭐️

Photo: Andreas Lambis

THE HOUSE ON COLD HILL is billed as a modern day supernatural thriller that ‘will send shivers down your spine and make you think twice about returning to a dark, empty house after the show.

Adapted for stage by Shaun McKenna from the book by top selling author Peter James (following the incredible sell-out success of his previous plays NOT DEAD ENOUGH, THE PERFECT MURDER and DEAD SIMPLE), this is a ghostly story of the Harcourt family, who move into the house of their dreams that has been empty for the last 40 years, but whose dream home quickly turns into a nightmare as they begin to wonder whether they may not be the only residents at Cold Hill… (Cue spooky music…)

There were a few creepy moments indeed but the I’m not sure anyone in the audience was truly terrified at any time! For someone like myself who doesn’t much like being terrified (!) this was welcome ~ a ‘safe’ spooky play where you know you will be able to return home without checking under the bed or behind curtains! Lovers of real horror though are likely to be disappointed as some of the horror is more akin to ‘spoof horror’ with great sound effects which is all actually quite enjoyable!

The set design by Alex Marker is gorgeous (as usual at Sonning!) with an accomplished cast of believable characters and a good pace. My only caveat here is Act One itself is a tad too long and could do with shortening ~ there’s a little too much ‘setting the scene’ going on and at the interval not a lot has actually happened with the actual action happening in Act 2

An experienced and accomplished cast brings characters to life, well directed by Keith Myers in his fifth Production at Sonning.  Madeleine Knight as Cara and Matt Milburn as Ollie have a great husband & wife rapport and lead the play well.  Hannah Bryce has a great time as grumpy temperamental 16 year old daughter with some pithy one liners along with Kevin Hand as Phil, and Dan Buckley as Computer Geek/Ghost Hunter is suitably opaque as the audience try to work out if he’s a goodie or a baddie!  Harry Gostelo is perfect as the local cleric Fortinbras, both wanting to help but unsure if he should, and great to see a completely unrecognisable Debbie McGee making her stage debut in a play. No weak links in this cast!

There are some fun and ‘spooky’ moments courtesy of virtual assistant ‘Alexa’ and the Sound & Visual effects throughout from Graham Weymouth do everything they should and need to! Effective costumes from Natalie Titchener and Production Photography by Andrea Lambis.

A pleasant evening with not too many shivers, so perfect for me!

If you’ve never been to the Mill on Sonning and you enjoy modern supernatural thriller plays now is the time to visit!  Quality production values with an experienced and proficient cast and a lovely meal in a wonderful venue with such friendly staff ~

What’s not to love?!

Catherine Françoise 
Reviewed Friday 11th February 2022
Mozart to Musicals

Peter James’ The House On Cold Hill is running until the 26th March 2022.

Box Office: 0118 969 8000

The Mill at Sonning Theatre
Sonning Eye

Director – Keith Myers
Set Designer – Alex Marker
Sound & Visual Effects Designer – Graham Weymouth
Adapted for Stage by
Shaun McKenna 

Hannah Boyce – Jade
Dan Buckley – Chris
Harry Gostelow – Fortinbras
Kevin Hand – Phil
Madeleine Knight – Caro
Debbie McGee – Annie
Matt Milburn – Ollie


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