STAGE REVIEW: The House on Cold Hill - at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Monday, February 18 to Saturday, February 23, 2019.

GOT noisy, creaky old pipes? The plumbing variety that is - for heating and water supplies. If so, bet they’re nowhere near as noisy as those in this creepy up-to-date ghostly thriller which on occasions occasions will send a shiver down your spine.

Based on hugely popular author Peter James’ own real-life experience, his Cold Hill tale is far from ‘real life’ as the audience is plunged head-first into supernatural stuff of nightmares!

James, who has sampled plenty of stage and book success with other offerings such as Not Dead Enough and Dead Simple, says his ghostly tale had been inspired by events when he and his former wife lived a for a decade in a Georgian manor house in Sussex.

He revealed, in his programme notes, that the house was ‘seriously haunted’. He and others, he said, encountered from time to time the apparition of a sinister looking grey-faced woman in a grey, silk crinoline dress.

Visits from a medium and then a clergyman, he recalled, dealt with the paranormal visitations and life in the house returned to normality.

Here, the nicely framed ghostly goings-on feature quite a number of well known names and faces such as Joe McFadden, who older heads will recall from tv’s Heartbeat and younger heads Holby City; along with him winning Strictly Coming Dancing. And there’s also Rita Simons from Eastenders and I'm a Celebrity, Charlie Clements, another from the Eastenders stable and Hollyoaks actress, Persephone Swales-Dawson.

McFadden and Simons are husband and wife, Ollie and Caro, one once running a high-flying advertising agency but now into web design, and the other an attractive solicitor, who move with teenage daughter Jade into the historic house of their dreams.

Those dreams soon dissipate and they begin to realise they are not the only ‘inhabitants’ of Cold Hill as unpredictable events change daily living into nightmares, subtly assisted by now taken for granted modern day gadgets for the home which elicit voices from the past.

Could the spirits have worked out computer passwords, how to photobomb or even how to beat Alexa to the punch?

The use of such modern technology means the play is bang up to date, as is the entertaining script, but it does partially provoke an uncomfortable feeling in the recesses of the mind that if even the spirits know how to hack into our private world how on earth can we, the living, be safe on-line?

Or is there a more rational explanation that can be attributed to village neighbours?

The two main players provide strong characters and spark excellent chemistry between them, while Swales-Dawson, as daughter Jade, is a suitably precocious teenager even though at times she did have a tendency to shriek her lines.

Impressive offerings from Charlie Clements, as computer whizz and part-time paranormal pursuer, Leon Stewart’s likeable builder Phil but especially Tricia Deighton’s delightfully dotty Annie, who is a blast from the Bohemian past.

Overall it’s a classic ghost story which crams a considerable amount into a short running time of just over two hours, taking into account the interval, and with its modern touches and a neat number of twists and turns it provides an excellent evening’s entertainment.

Predictable in parts, to a degree, especially as the spooky finale unfolds, it will still have you looking over your shoulder and wary when walking into a darkened room!