by Joseph Crilly

Tuesday, 4 February – Saturday, 29 February 2020

The English premiere

“There’s a lock o’ new houses down in the village and there’s a Sinn Féin advice centre and the shop’s a Spar now, but nothin’ much else is different. The whole world is changin’ and Gentry stays the same.”

Rural Northern Ireland, 1999. Fra Maline, proud IRA man, returns home - released early from prison under the Good Friday Agreement - and to celebrate his daughter, Theresa, throws a welcome home celebration at the local community hall on McQuillan’s Hill.

But Fra is more interested in resurrecting his relationship with his secret gay lover Dessie, and behind everyone’s back, Fra’s sister, Loretta, has bought the hall and turns up ready to renovate after a twenty-year unexplained absence on the mainland.

With the Good Friday Agreement in a precarious state, bitter memories, secrets from the past, and long buried lies are calamitously exposed…

A vicious black comedy from a playwright called “Ulster’s Martin McDonagh” (The Guardian), On McQuillan’s Hill confronts the horrors of abuse and absurdities of sectarian violence, with coruscating humour but always with insight, as it touches on memory and identity, love across the divide and the corrosive legacies of conflict.

Originally produced by the renowned Tinderbox Theatre Company in 2000 at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, On McQuillan’s Hill now receives its long-overdue English premiere.


Playwright Joseph Crilly (1962-2017) was an acclaimed writer and actor from Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland. His first stage play Second-Hand Thunder, produced by Tinderbox Theatre Company in 1998, won the Stewart Parker Trust New Writing Award. His other plays include No Tide on the Lough (Lyric Theatre, Belfast, and Royal Shakespeare Company New Play Festival 1995), A Wedding, A Jail and the Fifty Minute Shuttle (shortlisted for the Verity Bargate Award 1996), The Steps to Strength and Fame and Kitty and Damnation. He also wrote three radio plays for BBC Radio 4 – Comforting (2001), Stumbling (2003) and The Trick of Togetherness (2004). As an actor, he appeared in television (The Bill, A Time to Dance and Bergerac) and film (Resurrection Man, Children of the North and Crossfire). Joe Crilly tragically died by suicide in 2017.


Director Jonathan Harden returns to the Finborough Theatre where, as an actor he played the lead role in Caitlin McLeod’s production of renowned Ulster playwright Stewart Parker’s Northern Star. Direction includes Artistic Director at the Lyric Theatre Studio, Belfast, where he directed X6, a portmanteau of shorts, by Declan Feenan and Lisa McGee, having previously worked with them on their early work including Jump! and The Young Man with the Cream Tarts. He was Creative Producer for The 24hr Plays at the Lyric Theatre Belfast where he directed October by Declan Feenan, and Creative Producer at new writing theatre company twentyfivebelfast, directing Debris by Dennis Kelly and Service by Lisa McGee. Most recently, he directed two short films, Guard and Troubles, which have so far competed at over forty festivals and won a number of awards including the European Independent Film Award for Best Short Film 2017 and the Northern Ireland Short Film Award for Best Drama 2018.

His stage work as an actor includes Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Tamara Harvey (Theatr Clwyd), Children of the Sun, directed by Howard Davies (National Theatre) and Sanctuary, directed by Roisin McBrinn (Arcola Theatre). His television work includes Small Island, Titanic: Blood and Steel, The Life and Adventures of Nick Nickleby, Unforgotten, EastEnders, Halo: Nightfall, Casualty, and Peep Show. He has also featured in numerous films including Whole Lotta Sole, The Invisible Woman, The Truth Commissioner, Another Mother’s Son, Doing Money and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He has also provided voices for several video games, most notably Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, and the voiceover for 2015 Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning short film Boogaloo and Graham. Harden has also lectured in Drama at Queen’s University Belfast, read scripts as part of the Hothouse New Writing Panel at Tinderbox Theatre Company, and is the actor behind The Honest Actors' Podcast.


“Ulster’s Martin McDonagh.” The Guardian

“It’s not far short of a miracle, the number of fine playwrights Ireland produces. Here comes another: Joseph Crilly.” The Daily Telegraph

“Crilly succeeds in presenting us with wonderfully unclichéd figures and real human beings.” The Irish Examiner

“Joe Crilly has a gift for upsetting people in his native Northern Ireland.” The Guardian

“I was blown away by the tumbling, lyrical flow of language and the relish of telling a tale. The sheer energy of the dialogue: raw and piercing, adventurous and full of mischievous glee. Taste the writing, savour the man.” Actor Hugh Bonneville

“On McQuillan’s Hill’s strength is its unapologetic visceral quality. The viciousness of the story, the wild musicality of the language and the boldness of what Joe’s story challenged – ideals of community and heroism when underneath there was self-delusion, self-aggrandisement and abuse.” Stephen Wright (Creative Director of Two Cities Television, former Head of Drama for BBC Northern Ireland)

“What’s extraordinary is Crilly’s ability to shift into comedy and make his characters unexpectedly lovable.” The Daily Telegraph


“Harden has crafted a lyrical and disconcertingly tense thriller... More, please.” Irish Times on The Young Man with the Cream Tarts

“The most intriguing production of the year.” Belfast Telegraph on The Young Man with the Cream Tarts

“A master-stroke... the production ideas, values and set-ups are terrific.” The Vacuum on The Young Man with the Cream Tarts

“Right from the cleverly shot and edited pre-credits sequence... Harden keeps his foot on the accelerator... [with his] fast-moving cast of seven delivering an O'Coen Brothers take on Belfast-on-the-Fargo.” Belfast Newsletter on Jump!

“The Discovery of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.” Irish News on Jump!


Tuesday, 4 February – Saturday, 29 February 2020

Tuesday to Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm.
Saturday and Sunday Matinees at 3.00pm.

Performance Length: tbc.

Prices until 16 February 2020

Tickets £18, £16 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats.
Previews (4 and 5 February) £14 all seats.

£10 tickets for Under 30's for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.

£14 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on Saturday, 8 February 2020 when booked online only.

Prices from 18 February 2020

Tickets £20, £18 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £18 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £20 all seats. 

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



Book Tickets for On McQuillan's Hill

Tuesday, 4 February – Saturday, 29 February 2020

Please note that if a show is marked as Sold Out, there are no more tickets available. Please do NOT contact the theatre as we have no more tickets left for these shows. Please see our returns and exchanges policy for more information.

Directed by Jonathan Harden

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

Casting to be announced.