On McQuillan’s Hill

by Joseph Crilly

4 February - 29 February 2020

“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.”

The English premiere

★★★★★ Five Stars, Morning Star
★★★★★ Five Stars, LondonTheatre1
★★★★★ Five Stars, London Living Large
★★★★ Four Stars, The Stage
★★★★ Four Stars, The Spy in the Stalls
★★★★ Four Stars, Everything Theatre
★★★★ Four Stars, Reviewsgate
★★★★ Four Stars, Breaking the Fourth Wall
★★★★ Four Stars, A Younger Theatre

On McQuillan’s Hill is now completely sold out for the remainder of the run.

Returns only. For details of our Returns Policy, please click here.

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

Unknown to the revellers the hall has been bought by Fra’s sister, Loretta, who turns up ready to demolish it after a twenty-year absence across the water.

With peace on a knife-edge, bitter memories, family secrets and lies long buried in the bog threaten to resurface as an accidental family reunion descends into pitch black farce…

A vicious satire from a playwright hailed as “Ulster’s Martin McDonagh” (The Guardian), On McQuillan’s Hill gets under the dirty fingernails of small town Northern Ireland, confronting the horrors of abuse and the corrosive legacy of conflict with explosive wit and an insider’s eye for detail.

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.

About The Playwright Joseph Crilly

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.

About The Director Jonathan Harden

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. While Artistic Director at Sneaky Productions, Harden directed Declan Feenan and Lisa McGee’s early works, including Jump! and The Young Man with the Cream Tarts. He was also creative producer for The 24hr Plays at the Lyric Theatre Belfast, and later Artistic Director at the Lyric Theatre Drama Studio, where he directed X6, a portmanteau of shorts, again by Feenan and McGee. Most recently, he trained in documentary shooting at the National Film and Television School, and 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. He was recently welcomed to the directing chapter of the Irish Film and Television Academy, and is currently working on a short documentary, funded by BFI Network via NI Screen.

His stage work as an actor includes Much Ado About Nothing (Theatr Clwyd), and Children of the Sun (National Theatre). Television acting includes Small Island, The Secret, Titanic: Blood and Steel, My Mother and Other Strangers, The Life and Adventures of Nick Nickleby, Unforgotten, Peep Show and the multi-award winning Doing Money. He has also featured in numerous films including double Sundance award-winner Five Minutes of Heaven, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Invisible Woman, Victoria and Abdul, and The Ones Below. He will next be seen in cinemas in Dominic Cooke’s Ironbark. Harden has provided voices for several video games, most notably in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and also the narration for 2015 Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning short film Boogaloo and Graham.

The Press On The Original Production

“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

The Press on "On McQuillan’s Hill"

On McQuillan’s Hill has finally been given its London debut at the Finborough Theatre, delivering the same rawness, truth and courage it did all those decades ago.” Samuel Nicholls, A Younger Theatre

“All credit to the Finborough for once again recovering a work of such significance.” David Guest, The Spy in the Stalls

“A merciless glance at the myths and delusions surrounding small-town Northern Ireland.” Rachel Halliburton, The Arts Desk

“Positioned somewhere between the piercing heartache of Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman and the ferocious satire of Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore.” Stephen Bates, The Reviews Hub

“A pulsating rhythm and elegant lyricism pervade the English premiere of the unsettling and darkly comic On McQuillan’s Hill at the Finborough Theatre.” David Guest, The Spy in the Stalls

On McQuillan’s Hill still feels fresh with something important to say, not just about Ireland but that toxic masculinity as well.” Rob Warren, Everything Theatre

“Joe Orton could not have done better…a glorious black farce set during the Troubles - sex, incest, murder, violence, gay love, mother love & hypocrisy abound. It is also deadly serious underneath.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“Truthful, ravishing and sometimes savage.” David Guest, The Spy in the Stalls

“The depiction of Ulster is utterly raw and utterly rewarding.” Samuel Nicholls, A Younger Theatre

On McQuillan’s Hill has taken twenty years to reach mainland Britain, since its first production in Belfast soon after the Good Friday agreement. It has been more than well worth the wait!” John Groves, LondonTheatre1

“A wonderfully engaging story and this is a first-rate production.” Jim Cooke, London Living Large

“An astonishing blend of brutality and beauty.” David Guest, The Spy in the Stalls

“A wonderful, powerful play that provides much food for thought. Very highly recommended.” John Groves, LondonTheatre1

“It’s hard to miss a rumbling contemporary resonance.” David Guest, The Spy in the Stalls

“A moving play, with some great dialogue.” Mike Squires, Morning Star

“Always engaging and charged with dark humour.” Jim Cooke, London Living Large

“Thoughtful, prescient and a great reflection of Crilly’s legacy.” Samuel Nicholls, A Younger Theatre

“This revival shows that Crilly’s work deserves a new lease of life.” Emily Jupp, The Stage

“It takes a particular talent to make you leave the theatre feeling simultaneously shell-shocked and amused.” Rachel Halliburton, The Arts Desk

“Crilly’s script shines as both part-of and separated-from the Irish canon of plays: he touches upon the canon’s defining themes of emigration and identity, but then equally asserts his on own spin in the subject matter, reaching dark, introspective depths other playwrights refuse to venture into.” Samuel Nicholls, A Younger Theatre

On McQuillan’s Hill still has the capacity to shock but this quality revival never loses sight of the human stories, a knowing sense of humour, and the beating heart of a nation seeking a new chapter in a troubled history.” David Guest, The Spy in the Stalls

“The dark, satirical script still burns with authenticity and intimate knowledge of the macro and micro politics of rural Ulster. Crilly’s writing relishes pitting complicated characters against each other, letting them simmer over their perceived betrayals and then burn with the ferocity of years of pent-up anger.” Emily Jupp, The Stage

“Very powerful writing from a master of his craft, and one of the best-written plays I have seen for a long time.” John Groves, LondonTheatre1

“Crilly has created a portrait of small town Irish life which is scathing and hilarious.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“Every character is distinctively painted in the text.” David Guest, The Spy in the Stalls

“And that’s why On McQuillan’s Hill works, because the colourful set of characters at the play’s heart are so absolutely twisted.” Tom Holmes, SWLondoner

“A production that’s enhanced by an exceptionally strong cast. Under Jonathan Harden’s direction, they deliver a real gem.” Mike Squires, Morning Star

“An exemplary cast.” David Guest, The Spy in the Stalls

“The acting is stellar.” Tom Holmes, SWLondoner

“There is not a single weak link in the cast.” Samuel Nicholls, A Younger Theatre

“Gina Costigan and Julie Maguire are touching.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“Gina Costigan’s Loretta…particularly shines.” Rachel Halliburton, The Arts Desk

“An emotionally charged Gina Costigan.” David Guest, The Spy in the Stalls

“Played with convincing and sassy ease by Julie Maguire.” Liz Vercoe, Hammersmith Today

“The stand-out…is Julie Maguire as Theresa Maline.” Samuel Nicholls, A Younger Theatre

“Kevin Murphy is excellent.” Liz Vercoe, Hammersmith Today

“Kevin Murphy and Johnny Vivash, are hilarious.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“A superb, charismatic performance by Johnny Vivash.” John Groves, LondonTheatre1

“Johnny Vivash is excellent.” Jim Cooke, London Living Large

“Cannily portrayed by Declan Rodgers.” Penny Nair Price, The Saturn Herald

“Declan Rodgers makes the handyman Ray an impressively lusty but creepy hunk.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“Stirring and passionate Declan Rodgers.” David Guest, The Spy in the Stalls

“Helena Bereen as Mrs. Tymelly gives a master class in acting with her beautifully understated performance.” Jim Cooke, London Living Large

“Quietly forceful Helena Bereen.” David Guest, The Spy in the Stalls

“Helena Bereen is a wonderfully smug Mrs Tymelly.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“Directed with a sensitive ear for snatching comedy from the jaws of conflict by Jonathan Harden.” Emily Jupp, The Stage

“A worthy revival under the direction of Jonathan Harden.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“The direction, by Jonathan Harden is very perceptive.” John Groves, LondonTheatre1

“This is also one of the best directed (and acted!) plays I have seen for a long time!” John Groves, LondonTheatre1

“Jonathan Harden's direction gets the pacing just right and manages to unfold this complex and twisting story in a way that makes it both comprehensible and completely gripping.” Jim Cooke, London Living Large

“It still amazes me to see a theatre space so utterly transformed between visits. Just a few weeks previously I’d been at the Finborough Theatre and the place felt tiny and cramped, intentionally so for the show at hand. Yet returning again now, the same four walls felt open, even the packed benches felt more spacious. It gave the perfect feel of a small community hall, the sole location for all two hours of On McQuillan’s Hill: a credit indeed to the theatre and set designer Norman Coates.” Rob Warren, Everything Theatre

“As so often at the Finborough the designer, in this case Norman Coates, has worked miracles to transform the acting space. The sludge green hell hole of a hall is a perfect creation.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“The evocative set, making imaginative use of the Finborough space, is by Norman Coates.” John Groves, LondonTheatre1

“Norman Coates’s lovingly scuzzy design.” Rachel Halliburton, The Arts Desk

The Press On Jonathan Harden

“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!

4 February - 29 February 2020

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm
Sunday 3:00pm

Approximately two hours and five minutes, including an interval of fifteen minutes.