THE HARD MAN by Tom McGrath and Jimmy Boyle, opens at the Finborough Theatre for a strictly limited run on Sunday 2 March, 2014



Spring Season 2014 | February–May 2014

Maximillian Bittleston in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre presents

The first London production for more than 25 years


by Tom McGrath and Jimmy Boyle

Directed by Mark Dominy

“I’m a lunatic. A right bad lot. What the Judge always calls, “A menace to society”. I’m speaking to you tonight from a Scottish prison where I am serving a life-sentence for murder. What you are going to see is my life as I remember it”.

Commissioned by the Finborough Theatre, and another in its series of acclaimed rediscoveries of Scottish playwrights, the first London production since 1985 of Tom McGrath and Jimmy Boyle’s The Hard Man opens at the Finborough Theatre for a limited run of nine Sunday and Monday evening and Tuesday matinee performances from Sunday, 2 March 2014.

Glasgow, the 1970s. Johnny Byrne is a young schoolboy involved in petty crime and violence. But when he meets Deadeye, he soon finds himself known as a ‘hard man’ and being convicted of murder. But it is when he is serving his sentence in Barlinnie that the real acts of brutality occur…

Based on the life of Jimmy Boyle, co-writer of the play and – at the time of its production – still a prisoner in Barlinnie Special Unit, The Hard Man is his compelling and shocking study of a brutalised man in a brutalising system.

One of multi-award-winning playwright Tom McGrath’s most enduring works, The Hard Man now receives its first performances in London since 1985 in a new production commissioned by the Finborough Theatre.


For more information and to book tickets, please Click Here.


Playwright  Tom McGrath was born in Rutherglen, Glasgow, in 1940.  During the mid 1960s, he was associated with the emerging UK underground culture, participating in Alexander Trocchi’s Project Sigma, working as features editor of Peace News, and becoming founding editor of The International Times. During the early 1970s, he worked with Billy Connolly on The Great Northern Welly-Boot Show. From 1974 to 1977, he was director of the Third Eye Centre where he wrote the popular play Laurel and Hardy. He died in 2009.


Co-writer Jimmy Boyle was born in Gorbals, Glasgow, in 1944. He is a Scottish sculptor, novelist and convicted murderer. In 1967, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder. During his incarceration he turned to wrote an autobiography, A Sense of Freedom (1977), which has since been filmed. On his release from prison, he continued his artistic career. He designed the largest concrete sculpture in Europe called Gulliver for The Craigmillar Festival Society in 1976. Boyle has also published Pain of Confinement: Prison Diaries (1984), and a novel, Hero of the Underworld (1999). The latter was adapted for a French film, La Rage et le Rêve des Condamnés (The Anger and Dreams of the Condemned), and won the best documentary prize at the Fifa Montreal awards in 2002. He also has written a forthcoming novel, A Stolen Smile.


Director Mark Dominy was the Resident Assistant Director at the Finborough Theatre where he has assisted Alex Marker on Summer Day’s Dream, David Mercatali on Black Jesus and a variety of directors including Kate Wasserberg and Purni Morell on Vibrant 2013 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. Trained at the University of East Anglia. Direction includes Nylons (The Globe, Brighton), What I Want to Say But Never Will (Hinchingbrooke Performing Arts Centre, Cambridge), Oedipus The Hour (Edinburgh Festival), The Trial (Studio Theatre, Norwich) and One For The Road (Rehearsal Theatre, Norwich). Assistant Direction includes The Woman in Black (Fortune Theatre) and Wives As They Were and Maids as They Are (Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds).




Martin Docherty | Johnny Byrne

Trained at Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Theatre includes Pinocchio (The Arches), Cooking with Elvis (Tron Theatre, Glasgow), Nasty Brutish and Short (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh), Antigone (Tron Theatre, Glasgow), Risk (Tron Theatre, Glasgow) and The Cabinet of Dr. Jekyll (Britannia Panopticon).

Film includes Filth and Cloud Atlas.

Television includes Battlefield Britain, Still Game, Dear Green Place, River City, Rab C Nesbitt, Gary Tank Commander, One Night in Emergency, Case Histories and Young James.


Ross Dunsmore | Deadeye/Archie/Kelley/Policeman/Clerk/Mochan

Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Theatre includes The Crucible (National Theatre of Scotland), Othello (Citizens Theatre, Glsgow), The Baby (Tron Theatre, Glasgow), The Cosmonaut’s Last Message (Tron Theatre, Glasgow), Jackets (Haymarket Theatre, Leicester, and Bush Theatre), Gulliver’s Travels (Theatr Clwyd Cymru), The Angel’s Share (Borderline Theatre Company), If We Shadows (The Young Vic), The Cherry Orchard, The Card (New Victoria Theatre, Stoke), The Life of Galileo (BAC), Peter Pan (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield), The Island Sea (Riverside Studios), Celestina (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith) and The Power and the Glory (Chichester Festival Theatre).

Film includes A Shot at Glory and Macbeth.

Television includes Scarlet and Black, The Mystery of Agatha Christie, Civil War, Taggart and The Bill.


Adam Harley | Bandit/Johnstone

Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Theatre includes Love for Love, All’s Well That Ends Well, The Six Pictures of Lee Miller, Bloody Poetry, The Merchant of Venice, The Relapse, Fairyland, Pericles, Hippolytus, Respectable Wedding and The Seagull (all at RADA).

Film includes Meet the Guvnors.

Television includes A Young Doctor’s Notebook.


Jack McMillan | Slugger/Renfrew

Trained at East 15 Acting School.

Theatre includes Blue Boy (Northern Stage), Vieux Carre (King’s Head Theatre and Charing Cross Theatre) and The Beggar’s Opera (Open Air Theatre, Regents Park).

Television includes River City, Doctors and The Victorians.


Ruth Milne | Lizzie/Carole/Woman’s Voice

Trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

Theatre includes Punk Rock (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, and Lyric Hammersmith), Beauty and the Beast (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh) and AandBC Theatre’s A Satire of the Three Estates (Linlithglow Palace).

Film includes Hallam Foe and One Night in Sutherland Hill.

Television includes Doctor Who, JCN16 and The South Bank Show.


Ross F. Sutherland | Big Danny/Lewis/Commando/Paisley/Policeman

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include I Didn’t Always Live Here.

Trained at the Guildford School of Acting.

Theatre includes Decky Does A Bronco (Grid Iron Theatre and the Almeida Theatre), Class Act (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh), Fathers and Eggs (Quicksilver Theatre), Macbeth (Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, and National Tour), Granny and the Gorilla (Unicorn Theatre), Don Juan (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow), Stuart Little (Polka Theatre), Hydrocracker’s The New World Order (Brighton Festival and Barbican Festival) and Tall Stories’ The Snow Dragon (MacRobert Theatre, Stirling, and I-Theatre, Signapore).

Film includes GAMERz.

Television includes Casualty.

Radio includes The Tony Kay Scandal.


Sarah Waddell | Maggie/Maw/Woman with Archie/Bar Woman/Kelly/Didi

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include State Fair.

Trained at Drama Studio London.

Theatre includes Cause Celebre (The Old Vic), The York Realist (Riverside Studios), The Full Monty (Charing Cross Theatre) and Girls Night (New Vic and National Tour).

Film includes Deadpan Valentine.

Television includes The Gym.

Radio includes Cause Celebre and Noise.

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