April - June 2013


by Sam Thompson

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 28, 29, 30 April, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 May 2013

The first London production in over 50 years of the classic Ulster play

“I sometimes compare people with a story my father used to tell me when I was a wee girl. About how they built a boat in the shipyard, how they started from her keel plate and built her up, riveting and welding her plates to a sound structure... And when she was finished, she’d sail down Belfast Lough and into the ocean to be lashed and buffeted by storms. But dad always said that he could be sure of one thing, she’d come through it all in one piece. Isn’t it a pity people couldn’t be like that?”

The first GB production in over fifty years of the classic Ulster sectarian drama, Over The Bridge by Sam Thompson, opens at the Finborough Theatre for a limited run of nine Sunday and Monday evening and Tuesday matinee performances.

Set in the Belfast Shipyard of the 1950s and against the backdrop of the IRA's Border Campaign, Sam Thompson’s seminal 1960 play is a powerful exposé of Ulster's sectarian bigotry and violence before the eruption of the Troubles.

Peter O'Boyle, a Catholic shipyard worker, has become the target of a vicious whispering campaign. Veteran Trade Unionist Davy Mitchell, a Protestant who has spent his life fighting for others’ right to work, is keen that the Union does what it can to protect him. As tensions mount and the union begins to split on sectarian lines, mob rule starts to take over...

First staged in Belfast in 1960, the play was produced against a backdrop of controversy when the Ulster Group Theatre withdrew it for being a play that ‘would give rise to sectarianism of an extreme nature’. Its original production, directed by James Ellis, and starring J. G. Devlin, Joseph Tomelty and Harry Towb, played to an audience of 42,000 people during the six-week run, far greater than had attended any play in Belfast previously. It was seen on tour in Dublin, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Brighton and the West End, and was adapted for both radio and television.

Described by The Irish Times as "a brickbat hurled violently against bigotry", this Northern Irish classic continues to provoke uncomfortable questions about unity, tolerance and the rules we live by today.


Sam Thompson (1916-1965) was a seminal Northern Irish playwright, best known for his first play, Over the Bridge (1957). The play was first staged in Belfast in 1960, in the troubled aftermath of the Ulster Group Theatre’s decision to withdraw it for production. The play went on to have runs in Dublin, Brighton and London. Thompson’s other plays include The Evangelist (1961) and the television play, Cemented with Love (1964). A draft of a further play, The Masquerade, set in London, was completed just before his death. Thompson wrote several plays for radio which were broadcast by the BBC including Brush in Hand (1956),Tommy Baxter, Shop Steward (1957),The General Foreman (1958),The Long Back Street (1959),The Fairmans: Life in a Belfast Working Family (1960–1). Thompson spent most of his working life as a painter in the Belfast shipyards, starting aged 14 at Harland and Wolff, and was an active trade unionist all of his life. He also ran for the Northern Ireland Labour Party in the 1964 General Election.


Emma Faulkner received the 2010 Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme bursary in association with The Young Vic. Her directing includes London 2012: Glasgow (Theatre Uncut at the Bussey Building), Christmas The Musical (Battersea Mess and Music Hall), The Scared Ritual of the Nymphs of Natterjack, part of Bush Bazaar (Bush Theatre), Different is Dangerous (Tamasha), After the End (Dundee Rep and Pleasance, Edinburgh), The Mracle (Dundee Rep), Forfeit, What Love Is (Òran Mór and Dundee Rep), The Ruffian on the Stair, Making Good, Absolute Return (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond) and Knives in Hens (St Marys at BAC). Associate Direction includes Sunshine on Leith (National Tour). As Assistant Director, she has assisted Alan Ayckbourn on Taking Steps and other credits include Sleeping Beauty; A Doll’s House (Dundee Rep), Alison’s House, Spring Shakespeare, The Lady or the Tiger and The Ring of Truth (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond). She is also a script reader for the National Theatre of Scotland and Tinderbox.


Carolan Byne | Archie

Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Theatre includes The Cherry Orchard (Acting Shakespeare Company), King Lear (Royal Shakespeare Company and West End), Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet (Royal Shakespeare Company), A Tale For Winter (National Tour), The Flags (Hull Truck Theatre), The Playboy Of The Western World (Nuffield Theatre, Southampton), The Tempest, Love Labour’s Lost (Guildford Shakespeare Company), Scenes From The Enquiry (The Mac, Belfast) and The Magic (Theatre 503). 

Film includes The Comedian, Mr Nice, Round Ireland With A Fridge, Swansong: The Occi Byrne Story, Titanic Town and This Is The Sea.

Television includes An Innocent Abroad, Titanic - Blood and Steel and The Message.

Robert Calvert | Davy

Theatre includes Thank You For Not Thinking Outside The Box (Landor Theatre), Sabbat (Duke's Playhouse, Lancaster & Tour), The Wind In The Willows (Library Theatre at The Lowry, Manchester), Comus (London Handel Festival), What The Butler Saw, Shining City, Bus Stop (Theatre by the Lake, Keswick), The Lady In The Van (Salisbury Playhouse), Animal Farm (West Yorkshire Playhouse), London Assurance (Watermill Theatre, Newbury and Tour), The Cherry Orchard, Amadeus, Teeth ‘n’ Smiles (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield), Blue Remembered Hills (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry), Of Mice And Men, Family Voices, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Mercury Theatre, Colchester), Dealer’s Choice (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme), Waiting for Godot (National Tour), Noises Off, The Winter’s Tale, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, The Rise & Fall of Arturo Ui, A Marginal Affair (Library Theatre, Manchester), Troilus and Cressida (Royal Shakespeare Company) and The Memory Of Water (English Theatre, Vienna).
Film includes Titanic Town. Television includes EastEnders, Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, Good Man Yer Da!, Titanic Town, The Bill, Coronation Street, Always and Everyone, Casualty, Brookside, The Harringham Harker and Family.

Nick Danan | Billy

Theatre includes The Titanic Boys (Grand Opera House, Belfast), Holding Hands At Paschendale (White Bear Theatre), Macbeth (Winner Best Actor Award- Buxton Festival), The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Butterfly Theatre) The Proposal (C Company and The King's Head Theatre), Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare’s Globe), From Both Hips (Old Red Lion Theatre), The Shadow Of A Gunman (Tricycle Theatre), The Quare Fellow (Oxford Stage Company), Lieutenant Of Inishmore (Royal Shakespeare Company), This Lime Tree Bower (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry), One Last White Horse (Union Theatre), Juno and The Paycock (Haymarket Theatre, Leicester) and Gym and Tonic (Hull Truck).Television includes The Challenge, The Authentick and Ironical Historie of Henry the Fifthe and Safe.

Drew Dillon | Ephraim

Trained at Mountview Academy Of Theatre Arts. Theatre includes The Comedy Of Errors (Theatre At The Mill), The Playboy Of The Western World (The Old Vic), The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Etcetera Theatre), The Tale of The Beauty and The Tail of The Beast (Lyric Theatre, Belfast) and Elegies for Angels, Punks & Raging Queens (Black Box, Belfast) Film includes The Hollow Crown: Henry IV. Television includes Hollyoaks and Doctors Recordings include the Northern Irish Cast Recording of Elegies for Angels, Punks & Raging Queens.

Catriona Hinds | Nellie

Theatre includes Anna, Women on the Verge of HRT (Derby Live), Playing For Time, Dancing At Lughnasa (Salisbury Playhouse), Dancing At Lughnasa, Big Maggie (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme), The Misanthrope (Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds), Top Girls (Drum Theatre, Plymouth, and Salisbury Playhouse), A Moving Destiny (Yew Theatre Company), The School On The Green (Big Telly Theatre Company), All My Sons and Put Out That Light (Lyric Theatre, Belfast).
Film includes A Further Gesture, Titanic Town and Once Again.
Television includes Moving On.
Radio includes Daisy The Cow Who Talked, Passage To More Than India and The World Will Thank Me.

Lawrence McGrandles Jnr | Mob Leader

At The Finborough Theatre, Lawrence appeared in Men Without Shadows (2007). Trained at Drama Centre London. Theatre includes The Accomplice (Menier Chocolate Factory), The Cure At Troy (Cockpit Theatre and Greece tour), The Bacchae (Cockpit Theatre and Cyprus tour), Card Index (BAC), The Merchant Of Venice, Treasure Island (Palace

Theatre, Westcliffe), Amadeus (The Old Vic) and Il Turco In Italia (The Newcastle Opera House). Television includes Poirot, Dreamteam, EastEnders, Road To Riches and Secrets Of The Great Plague.

Melanie McHugh | Martha

Trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
Theatre includes Durang/Durang (Jermyn Street Theatre), Twelfth Night (Creation Theatre Company, Oxford), Shining City (Greenwich Theatre and National Tour), Dancing At Lughnasa (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme), Pedro The Great Pretender, Tamar's Revenge, The Dog in the Manger (Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre), The Art of Success (Arcola Theatre), The Playboy of the Western World, Peer Gynt, Romeo And Juliet (National Theatre), Silas Marner (Tivoli Theatre, Dublin), Blood Wedding (Northern Stage, Newcastle), Playgirl, Rumpelstiltskin (Abbey Theatre, Dublin), The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, Summerhouse (Druid Theatre, Galway), The Illusion (Charabanc Theatre Company, Belfast), The Lament for Arthur Cleary (7:84 Theatre, Scotland) and Translations (Chandler Theatre, Glasgow)
Radio includes Burnt Bolognaise, Brush Up Your Shakespeare and Never Say Die.
Writing includes three short plays, Bungalow, Clocked and Blushing, performed at the Landor Theatre.
Voiceover includes audiobooks for Audible.co.uk and the RNIB.

Amy Molloy | Marian

Trained at Mountview Academy Of Theatre Arts.
Theatre includes My Cousin Rachel (Gate Theatre, Dublin), Big Maggie (Druid Theatre, Galway), Belfast Girls (King's Head Theatre), October, Building Site (Arcola Theatre), John Gabriel Borkman (B.A.M Harvey Theatre, New York, and Abbey Theatre, Dublin), The Lieutenant Of Inishmore (The Curve, Leicester), Black Milk (Prime Cut Productions), Kitty And Damnation (Lion and Unicorn Theatre), The Surveyor (New End Theatre, Hampstead), Once A Catholic (Upstairs at the Gatehouse), The Seagull (Chelsea Theatre) and 'Come On Over' (Old Vic New Voices at Tristan Bates Theatre).
Film includes The Sea and Black Ice.

Alan Mooney | Fox

Theatre includes Ellen (UK Tour), Hamlet (Tivoli Theatre, Dublin), The Veil (National Theatre), Cyrano on the Moon (Wimbledon Studios), History of Theatre (UK Tour), The Full Monteverdi (Lincoln Center, Broadway, NYC), Julius Caesar (Barbican Theatre), The Colleen Bawn (Big Telly Irish Tour), The Gentlemen of Verona (Northcott Theatre, Exeter), Broken Angel (Theatre Royal, Northampton), Rum and Vodka (Soho Theatre), Deathwatch (Revolve Theatre Company), Translations (Palace Theatre, Watford, and Tour), DA (Riverside Studios), Women on the Verge of HRT (Theatre Royal, Northampton, and Palace Theatre, Watford), Measure for Measure (Revolve Theatre Company), Sive (Tricycle Theatre and Palace Theatre, Watford), Juno and the Paycock (Haymarket Theatre, Leicester, and the Albery Theatre), The Plough and the Stars (Garrick Theatre) and Earwigs (TEAM Theatre Company, Dublin).

Film includes Rickshaw, Tell Me How I Live Without You, That One Night, Where Do Spies Go When They Die? and The Full Monteverdi.

Television includes Condition Black, Snake Killers and When Animals Attract.

Radio includes Faithful Departed, Listen And Read, Travels Of The Mind and Who’s News, Who’s Views.

Kevin Murphy | Peter

Trained at LAMDA.  
Theatre includes Juno and the Paycock (National Theatre and the Abbey Theatre, Dublin) The Lieutenant of Inishmore (The Curve, Leicester) Much Ado About Nothing (Creation Theatre Company), True West (English Theatre Company, Essen), Dancing at Lughnasa (Linbury Studio at LAMDA), Open House (Kensal House with Riverside Studios and Spid Theatre Company), Faustus (Etcetera Theatre), Extremities and This Lime Tree Bower (Dublin). Other work includes rehearsed readings for the National Theatre Studio, Hampstead Theatre, The Gate, The Curve, Leicester, and for Steven Berkoff.
Television includes Doctors, The Whistleblower, The Bill, The Year London Blew Up and The Long Walk. 
Radio includes The Burial at Thebes, Space 1889 and Red Devils.

Michael Neilson | George

Theatre includes The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas (Strand Theatre and Savoy Theatres), South Pacific (Prince of Wales Theatre), The 1988 Royal Command Performance (Victoria Palace Theatre), Blood Brothers (Phoenix Theatre), The Fields of Ambrosia (Aldwych Theatre), Oliver! (London Palladium), The Erpingham Camp, Billy’s Last Stand, The Music Man (Theatre Royal Plymouth), Sexual Perversity in Chicago (Grand Theatre, Swansea), Another Country (Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke), The Provok’d Wife (Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich), The Ruffian on the Stair, The Good and Faithful Servant (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry), Guys and Dolls, Baby (Library Theatre, Manchester), The Wind in the Willows (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield), Privates on Parade (Coliseum Theatre, Oldham), Carousel  (Westcliff Palace Theatre), Annie (Civic Theatre, Guildford), The Sound of Music (White Rock Theatre, Hastings), What Now Little Man (Greenwich Theatre), Calling Your Name (Notting Hill Courtyard Theatre), The Rocky Horror Show (National Tour), Aspects of Love (Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage) and Singin’ in the Rain (National Tour).  Film includes Distant Fear and Dope Opera. Television includes The Bill, Lipstick on your Collar, True Crimes and Grange Hill. Voiceover includes Mad about Mambo, Old New Borrowed Blue, Jason and the Argonauts and Snatch. 

Sean O'Callaghan | Rabbie

Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Theatre includes The Seafarer (Perth Theatre and the Lyric Theatre, Belfast), Doing The Idiots (National Theatre Studio), The Beasts (Theatre 503), Shining City (Derby Playhouse), The Crucible, Popcorn (Octagon Theatre, Bolton), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Lonesome West, The Beauty Queen Of Leenane, The Plough And The Stars, The Bright and Bold Design, Twelfth Night (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme), Noises Off (Coliseum Theatre, Oldham), Ursula, Gertrude, Wounds To The Face 13 Objects, Ecstatic Bible (The Wrestling School), The Bells (Northern Broadsides), The Playboy Of The Western World (Liverpool Playhouse), The Daughter, Warcrime (The Wedding Collective), Tender (Hampstead Theatre), Henry V, Richard II, Romeo and Juliet, The Winter's Tale, Son Of Man, Zenobia, The Storm, After Easter and Pentecost (Royal Shakespeare Company).
Film includes Maria Graham, Shaftesbury Players (Best Actor at the Granada Film Festival), Bigga Than Ben and A Brand From The Burning.
Television includes Neverwhere, Supply And Demand, Casualty, Medics and The Last Romantics.

Chris Robinson | Baxter

Theatre includes The Comedy of Errors, Hush (Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey), Pvt Wars (Grand Opera House, Belfast), Forget Turkey, Brendan At The Chelsea (Lyric Theatre, Belfast), Diary of a Madman, Pick N Mix (The MAC, Belfast), The Miniaturists (Arcola Theatre), One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, (Rawlife), Loot (Belfast Theatre Company), Robin Hood (The Waterfront, Belfast), Have A Nice Life (Pleasance London) and Murder In The Cathedral (Ulster Theatre Company). Film includes Breakfast on Pluto. Television includes Wee Three Cranes, City Hall, Jason Byrne Hates... and The Day Mountbatten Died. Radio includes How to Cope, Romantics and Revolutionaries and Don't Make Me Laugh.


“Urgent … and so well performed that it should not be missed” ★★★★★ Five Stars, WhatsOnStage on After the End

“Dennis Kelly’s script is realized skillfully here … an absorbing and sharply delivered exploration of human behaviour pushed to extremes” ★★★★ Four Stars, The Independent on After the End

“A fine production” ★★★★ Four Stars, The Scotsman on After the End

“A tense intriguing debate … immaculately performed” ★★★★ Four Stars, The Scotsman on Forfeit

“A pleasure… Faulkner has polished it up nicely, too...sustaining the serio-comic mood right up to the hilariously blithe, cynical ending.” The Times on The Ruffian on the Stair

“Worth crossing London to see.. played with such finesse” British Theatre Guide on The Ruffian on the Stair


"At last the unclean spirit of sectarianism had been dragged before the floodlights and examined with passion, pity and corrosive laughter" Sam Hanna Bell in Causeway: The Arts in Ulster

"A landmark in the cultural history of Northern Ireland and ... prophetic of the Troubles to follow;" James McAleavey in Irish Playwrights, 1880-1995: A Research and Production Sourcebook

"A powerful indictment of the failure of labour politics against religious fundamentalism." Lance Pettitt in Screening Ireland: Film and Television Representation

"Sam Thompson changed the face of Ulster theatre and influenced later playwrights...It is a mark of Sam Thompson’s importance to Northern Irish drama that everything he wrote caused frissons of alarm among the sensitive members of our ruling class.’ John Keyes


“This production of Over the Bridge is the first in London for over 50 years, and deserves the airing that it receives at the Finborough.” Amy Stow, What’s On Stage

“A powerful play with a strong and timely message.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network 
“From beginning to end, this play was enrapturing.” Sam Thompson, Everything Theatre

“When this classic Ulster drama was first staged in Belfast over 50 years ago, it had already been rejected by the board of the Group Theatre because it “would give rise to sectarianism of an extreme nature”.  A new company, formed by Jimmy Ellis, put it on stage and it played to an audience of 42,000 people during the six-week run, far greater than had attended any play in Belfast previously.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Successfully shows a society where social tensions are interleaved with mixed human motives, building towards the explosive ‘Troubles’ into which the following decade finally collapsed.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“An indictment of the trade unions for failing to deal with sectarian bigotry and violence in the workplace.” Robert Tanitch, British Theatre Guide

“Over the Bridge successfully depicts the horror and frustrations associated with 1950s life in Belfast.” Amy Stow, What’s On Stage

“The fifteen minutes leading up to the attack of a mob on two of the central characters were some of the tensest I’ve ever experienced.” Sam Thompson, Everything Theatre

“Both beautifully written and performed.” Sam Thompson, Everything Theatre

“The Finborough regularly stages Irish plays and this is one of the best...deserves a longer run.” Robert Tanitch, British Theatre Guide

“The quality of some performances are astounding.” Emily Mae Winters, Bargain Theatreland

“A fine ensemble.” Robert Tanitch, British Theatre Guide 

“Intensely acted.” Emily Mae Winters, Bargain Theatreland

“The stand-out performances of the evening came from Michael Nielson as Davy Mitchell, Amy Malloy as his daughter Marian and Melanie McHugh as Martha White.” Sam Thompson, Everything Theatre

“Melanie McHugh...commanding, engaging and truthful.” Emily Mae Winters, Bargain Theatreland

“Amy Molloy is fantastic as Marian whose storytelling throughout is spellbinding and completely connected.” Emily Mae Winters, Bargain Theatreland 

“Amy Molloy as the daughter of the deceased was heart-wrenchingly believable.” Sam Thompson, Everything Theatre

“Amy Molloy...gives a heartbreaking account of the effect that her father's ongoing unemployment had on her family when she will a little girl.” Amy Stow, What’s On Stage

 “Robert Calvert plays Davey Mitchell with conviction and compassion, a hero of the trade union, who risks his life in support of Catholic fellow worker Peter O’Boyle (an outstanding Kevin Murphy).” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network 

“Lawrence McGrandles Jnr is the soft spoken but sinister mob leader who refuses to take any responsibility for the actions of the mob. His performance is chilling.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Director Emma Faulkner handles the presentation of alpha-male, testosterone-imbued characters in the play with as much sensitivity as possible.” Amy Stow, What’s On Stage 

“Emma Faulkner’s production has an authentic documentary feel and is totally involving.” Robert Tanitch, British Theatre Guide 

“There is certainly a mystical ambience pervading the Finborough space as sounds of a shipyard echo in the distance. Credit should first be given to Philip Lindley for the set.  This very small space available is used beautifully from beginning to end.” Emily Mae Winters, Bargain Theatreland

“What the West End needs is a small theatre to which fringe productions of this calibre can transfer.” Robert Tanitch, British Theatre Guide


Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 28, 29, 30 April, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 May 2013

Sunday and Monday evenings at 7.30pm. Tuesday matinees at 2.00pm

Tickets £14, £10 concessions


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


Written by Sam Thompson

Directed by Emma Faulkner

Designed by Phil Lindley

Lighting by Elliot Griggs

Costume Design by Emily Stuart

Sound by Tom Meehan

Produced by Karen Morris

Presented by Lightbox Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.