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News > Arts & Culture > Tom Aarvold brings McQuillan's Hill to the London stage

Tom Aarvold brings McQuillan's Hill to the London stage

Tom Aarvold (JH 96-01) brings acclaimed Northern Irish playwright Joseph Crilly's play to the Finborough Theatre in February 2020
Tom Aarvold (JH 96-01) together with co-producer Lucy Kate Lee is bringing acclaimed Northern Irish playwright Joseph Crilly's On McQuillan’s Hill to the London stage, where it will receive its long overdue English premiere at the Finborough Theatre in February 2020.

Above Left: Tom Aarvold and co-producer Lucy Kate Lee   Right: Playwright, Joseph Crilly

Tom met the playwright Joe in 2013 through the Peabody Trust where Joe ran the Well Met befriending scheme, introducing volunteers to some of the more isolated residents and generally taking care of those most in need. Not a small task across a portfolio of 50,000 properties, but one he managed with seeming ease and always good humour. Joe tragically died by suicide in 2017 and a collection of his most acclaimed plays was posthumously published in The Crilly Trilogy. It was through this publication that Tom became aware of Joe’s literary genius, and Doreen Productions was formed with the sole purpose of introducing Joe’s work to a new audience. The production company is named after Doreen Corfield, the lady Joe paired Tom with who sadly passed in 2018.
Joe’s writing has been compared to Martin McDonagh of Two Billboards fame and when first performed at the Lyric Theatre Belfast received widespread acclaim.
“I was blown away by the tumbling, lyrical flow of the language… the sheer energy of the dialogue: raw and piercing, adventurous and full of mischievous glee.” – Hugh Bonneville (actor)
On McQuillan’s Hill is a vicious black comedy confronting the devastating impact of sectarian violence through the story of the Malines: Fra Maline, an IRA prisoner, is released early under the Good Friday Agreement to his secret gay lover and disreputable clan. As they gather to celebrate his release inside an isolated community hall, bitter memories from the past are resurrected and long buried lies are calamitously exposed… 

The play finds comedy in the futility of political violence, with a central message of peace, tolerance and forgiveness set against the toxic aftermath of the Troubles. Though twenty years old the play is unfortunately as relevant now as ever, with the current political impasse in Northern Ireland and Brexit posing a very real threat of a hard border being re-introduced on the island of Ireland.

The production is directed by Jonathan Harden, returning to directing for the stage following a prolific career as an actor, director and producer in both television and film. 

The Finborough Theatre is an award-winning venue with a focus on presenting thought-provoking text-based new writing, as well as rediscovering genuinely neglected works from the 19th and 20th centuries.

The production is not-for-profit, and Doreen Productions are now fundraising for the initial four-week run. If you are interested and able to support then please visit the crowdfunding page for further information:

Tickets for the production are available here:

The Crilly Trilogy can be purchased here:

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