20 Premieres at the Finborough Season | November 2014 - February 2015


by Colleen Murphy

Sundays and Mondays, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26 January 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16 February 2015

The European premiere

“I've got a life, and I'm gonna keep it.”

A new production commissioned by the Finborough Theatre and originally seen as a staged reading as part of Vibrant – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, and part of its Winter Season of 20 Premieres, the European premiere of Pig Girl by former Canadian Playwright-in-Residence at the Finborough Theatre, Colleen Murphy.

Inspired by real events.

For eighty-five minutes, a Killer holds a Dying Woman captive in a secluded barn. Their names say it; there is no escaping the horrific conclusion.

In the empty space on either side are the Dying Woman’s Sister and a Police Officer. Their action spans nine years as the sister beats her head against a police force agonizingly slow to investigate the disappearance of marginalized sex workers.

The play gives a fictional victim’s story back to her as she fights to refuse the inevitable. It will not help her, but her heroic defiance gives voice to thousands of women whose lives or spirits have been lost to violence.

Pig Girl received its world premiere in November 2013 in a hugely controversial production at Theatre Network in Edmonton, Alberta. It recently won Canada's prestigious Carol Bolt Award, sponsored by Playwrights Canada Press, the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, and Playwrights Guild of Canada, for the best new by a Playwrights Guild of Canada member that has premiered in the past year.


Playwright Colleen Murphy is the former Canadian Playwright in Residence at the Finborough Theatre where her previous productions have included The December Man (L’homme de decembre),The Goodnight Bird, The Piper, Beating Heart Cadaver and Armstrong's War. Since 2010, Colleen has been guest playwright at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Canada and was Playwright-in-Residence at The Factory Theatre in Toronto in 2011/2012. Currently, as the Lee Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Alberta, Canada, she is working on three new plays, as well as libretti for new operas with composers Aaron Gervais and Andrew Staniland. Murphy’s play, The December Man (L’homme de décembre), won the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. Her large opera, The Enslavemant and Liberation of Oksana G, composed by Aaron Gervais, will be produced by Tapestry New Opera in Toronto in 2015. Murphy is also an award winning filmmaker.


Director Helen Donnelly is a former Resident Assistant Director at the Finborough Theatre where she assisted on Almost Near, John Ferguson, Hostage Song and The Immortal Hour. Trained at Royal Holloway University of London with a MA in Theatre Directing. Direction includes includes Scumbags (Richmix), Corrections (Intermission Theatre), Far Away (Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast), About A Goth (Black Box Theatre, Belfast), Lead Astray (MAC, Belfast), Sitting Up For Michael (Northern Irish Tour) and Forgotten Footfalls (Ulster Hall Group Space, Belfast). Assistant Direction includes assisting Lynne Parker on Macbeth (Lyric Theatre, Belfast), Oliver Mears on Hansel and Gretel (Gaiety Theatre, Dublin) and Jamie Harper on The Return of Colmcille (Walk The Plank) for Derry/Londonderry City of Culture.


Olivia Darnley | Sister

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include Accolade and The Rat Trap.
Trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Other Theatre includes includes Accolade (St James Theatre), Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies (Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre and Broadway), Pride and Prejudice, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth (Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park), A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow), A Marvellous Year For Plums (Chichester Festival Theatre), All My Sons (Apollo Theatre), Artist Descending A Staircase (Old Red Lion Theatre), Hay Fever (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Arms and the Man (Salisbury Playhouse) Private Lives, Much Ado about Nothing and The Importance of Being Earnest (Theatre Royal Bath).
Television includes The Five(ish), Doctors Reboot, Titanic, Miss Marple, Doctors, Hughie Green; Most Sincerely, Agatha Christie – A Life in Pictures and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.
Radio includes Lost in Mexico and African Beauty.

Kirsten Foster | Dying Woman

Trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
Theatre includes Lennon (Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool) and Around the World in 80 Days (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme).
Film includes Zoe and The Astronaut.
Television includes Critical, Law and Order UK, EastEnders and Lewis.

Damien Lyne | Killer

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include The Goodnight Bird.
Trained at Drama Centre London.
Theatre includes Way Out West (Hull Truck Theatre and Tour), Changing Rooms (Grand Theatre, Swansea), Of Mice and Men (Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury), The Heiress (The Mill at Sonning),The Pillowman (Curve Theatre, Leicester), Boy’s Life (Soho Theatre), Grave Gifts A.O.D (Theatre Royal Bath), Pride With Prejudice (Gatehouse Theatre), Tess (King’s Head Theatre), The Hostage (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Hummingbird (Royal Court Theatre), King Lear, The Country Wife, The Merchant of Venice, The Venetian Twins and Love’s Labour's Lost (Royal Shakespeare Company). Film includes Surprise.
Television includes Hollyoaks, Is This It, Midsomer Murders, The Bill, Doctors, Harry Enfield, Neverwhere and Yesterday’s Dreams.

Joseph Rye | Police Officer

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include Blackwater Angel.
Trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.
Theatre in the UK includes The Public Eye (Brockley Jack Studio Theatre), Death Of A Salesman (Theatre Royal York), Death Of A Salesman (Lyric Theatre), Macbeth (Stafford Shakespeare Festival), Myopia (White Bear Theatre)The High Lady B (Traffic Of The Stage), Viva Espana (White Bear Theatre) and Forever Eve (Shaw Theatre). Theatre in New Zealand includes The Birthday Party (Musgrove Theatre), The Pitmen Painters (Q Theatre) and Hyperion (Musgrove Theatre).
Theatre in the USA includes The Ruffian on the Stair (Lillian Theatre) and Loot (A Noise Within Theatre Company).
Film includes Life Is Hot in Cracktown, V for Vendetta, Batman Begins, Alien Versus Predator, Living In Hope, Lovelife, Mean Machine, Born to Lose, Selkie, Blink, Ouija, Dead Wrong and The End of the Tunnel.
Television includes Field Punishment No. 1, EastEnders, Casualty, CSI New York, Midsomer Murders, Holby City, The Bill, Conan the Adventurer, Fame LA, High Incident, Nash Bridges, All American Girl and Crosstown Traffic.


"Compulsively watchable, and impossible to watch...We aren’t presented with serial killing as some abstract pattern of destruction, or exploration of deep cultural failure. No, we’re watching a woman on a meat hook being butchered to death by a maniac in front of our eyes...Thoughtfully and artfully written...That we’re in a theatre adventurous enough to tell it is something to salute." Liz Nicholls, The Edmonton Journal 

"Raw, unflinching...a raw, teeth-gritter drama about missing women and murder and the failures of bureaucracy to prevent both of those things ...Dying Woman gives a life and a humanity and a vibrancy to the lost, nameless women that were never identified...This is unusual theatre, brave and bold and violent and, in its honesty, an opening into a necessary discussion we don't often force ourselves have...A stunning, haunting success." Paul Blinov, Vue Weekly


On Armstrong's War

★★★★★ OneStopArts

★★★★ WhatsOnStage, CultureFly, Everything Theatre, The Upcoming

"A thought-provoking theatrical gem of a production.” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“I for one hope that this production comes back to London after its official premiere in Vancouver, as I can only imagine what such an effect this resonant, well-crafted and touching story will have when it reaches wider audiences.” Alex Gordon, CultureFly

“Murphy – a firm Finborough favourite following her tenure as the theatre's Canadian Playwright in Residence – writes sharp, humorous, wryly perceptive dialogue that hotwires us to the hearts and minds of her characters and makes us care for them, deeply.” Alex Ramon, OneStopArts

On The Goodnight Bird

“Murphy's script is full of sharp wit and great lines...Makes the small Finborough stage bubble with liveliness and hilarity.” Emma Berge, British Theatre Guide

“A happy end to the Finborough’s discovery of a playwright overdue for production in Britain.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviewsgate  

On Beating Heart Cadaver

"Beautifully moving. Wondrously humorous. In an extraordinary examination of the sudden and tragic death of a child, Murphy has managed to express the inexpressible." Jury Citation, Governor General's Award for English Language Drama

"Beautifully crafted… So staggeringly painful to watch that few will be able to bear it...A powerful, wrenching call to love while you can." Variety


"Helen Donnelly’s light touch direction and this intelligent, articulate production leaves you wanting more.” Belfast Telegraph on About A Goth

"An impressive production from a still quite new company.” NI Scene on Far Away

"A superb one man show." Love Belfast Magazine on About A Goth
"The play couples emotive depth with plenty of laugh out loud moments" Pastie Bap Belfast on About A Goth

"70 minute tour de force...kept me mesmerised." Upstart Publishing Belfast on About A Goth


“A bruising, intense and thoroughly disquieting work that proved deeply divisive upon its world premiere at Theatre Network in Edmonton, Alberta in 2013,” Alex Ramon, The Public Reviews

“A relentless and excruciating account of neglect and pain, with some truly horrible moments of torture that are almost unbearable to watch.” Aleks Sierz, The Stage Reviews

“A provocative thriller. Inspired by real events – in 2010, a Vancouver man was convicted after the remains of over 30 women were found on his pig farm – Murphy focuses on the plight of one unnamed woman, soon to be the latest victim of a cold-blooded serial killer.” Aisha Josiah, The Upcoming

“This powerful and award-winning play” Aleks Sierz, The Stage Reviews

“This is the European premiere of Canadian writer Colleen Murphy's unsettling play, which was first presented as a rehearsed reading during the Vibrant Festival of Finborough Playwrights.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“A deeply feminist, profoundly political work, whose critique of the apathy of the authorities in dealing with the disappearances of girls from marginalized groups communicates clearly and urgently.” Alex Ramon, The Public Reviews

“The play allows the dead to speak into the silence. It is the playwright’s way of ensuring that they “live forever” as the dying woman (played by Kirsten Foster) defiantly and courageously insists she will” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“Murphy’s work is refreshingly unpredictable. Themes and story develop organically, while each play carves-out its own style and manner. She is a keen observer, a shrewd and independent-minded analyst. And a terrific writer, with unshowy. economical dialogue, and tightly-structured action.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“The plays of Colleen Murphy have become something of a staple of the Finborough’s programming over the last few years, resulting in the playwright’s tenure as Canadian Writer-in-Residence at the theatre in 2011-12.” Alex Ramon, The Public Reviews

“Murphy writes from the heart and with a strong sense of indignation.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“A quietly searing performance from Olivia Darnley as the sister, determined to find out what happened to her sibling and who constantly reminds that the unknown and unidentified were all somebody’s sister or daughter or mother, all deserving of our attention and respect.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“Olivia Darnley is devastatingly effective” Ian Foster, There Ought To Be Clowns

‘”If my sister were rich and white you’d look for her”, the sister accuses, in a heartrending performance by Olivia Darnley.’ Aisha Josiah, The Upcoming

“The play’s heart lies with the sisters and, contrasting Darnley’s urgency, Kirsten Foster’s determined prisoner, holding to her identity by defiance and insistence, is an unpitying, selfless performance in a remarkable evening.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“Kirsten Foster is especially impressive, giving a highly charged performance in a very challenging role, both physically and emotionally.” Anonymous, Stage Seen

“An incredible performance from Kirsten Foster.” Emily Pulham, Everything Theatre

“Helen Donnelly’s strong production features committed performances from Kirsten Foster (Dying Woman), Damien Lyne (Killer), Olivia Darnley (Sister) and Joseph Rye (Police Officer).” Aleks Sierz, The Stage Reviews

“A powerhouse of a performance, and gives a strong, brave, and concise voice to victims of a madman who was left alone to kill for far too long.” Emily Pulham, Everything Theatre

“Helen Donnelly’s gripping production” Alex Ramon, The Public Reviews

“Alert to the ever-shifting rhythms of Murphy’s language – which is sometimes beautiful and poetic, at others intensely ugly and visceral, but always rich in evocative detail – Donnelly’s production doesn’t flinch from the play’s discomforting elements.” Alex Ramon, The Public Reviews

“Donnelly gets committed, powerful performances from her first-rate cast” Alex Ramon, The Public Reviews

“A potent, provocative play, one that’s turned, by Donnelly’s fine production, into a requiem of sorts.” Alex Ramon, The Public Reviews

“She deserves a sensitive, perceptive director. And has one in Helen Donnelly,” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“A superb sound design by Fred Riding” Alex Ramon, The Public Reviews

“Thanks again to Neil McPherson’s Finborough for championing Canadian playwright Colleen Murphy. Ignored elsewhere throughout Britain, this is her fifth play here. Each is serious, riveting and deeply involving.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate


Sundays and Mondays, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26 January, 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16 February 2015

Sunday and Monday evenings at 7.30pm.

Performance Length: Approximately 90 minutes with no interval.

Tickets £18, £16 concessions

For details of our Returns Policy for sold out performances, please click here


Directed by Helen Donnelly

Designed by Zoe Hammond

Lighting by Nic Farman

Costume Design by Zoe Hammond

Sound by Fred Riding

Presented by Bridget Hanley in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.