The Horror Writer: a preview


A wonderful aspect with most radio plays is their ability to jump from location to location, and also across different time periods.

Emily Gilmar Murphy’s The Horror Writer was a huge success when it opened in The Ireland Institute on Pearse Street in 2019. The success of The Horror Writer was followed by the innovative Blind in 2020.

The year (and a bit… so far) of Covid has been a nightmare for everyone but it has also offered some opportunities. We see content being created and viewed in innovative ways. For example, the National Theatres’s production of Romeo and Juliet on Sky Arts demonstrated how it is possible to take old (and albeit excellent) material and create something new.

With the help of funding from the BAI Funding, Emily Gilmor has also taken excellent material and is back with an adapted version of The Horror Writer as a radio drama which will air on RTE Radio 1 Extra on Thursday April 8th at 8pm. There is no good time for the arts community, but Covid has made things even worse and it is brilliant to see a exceptionally talented young writers such as Emily Gilmor being given a platform on the national broadcaster.

Transforming the original play into a 60 minute Radio Drama was a challenge for the team and in particular for Emily. But it also provided opportunities. While, a theatre production may have some obvious advantages over a radio drama, the audio element of the Radio Drama is a major interest for Emily and her Sound engineer Ciaran Gallagher (who had directed the original production).

Other advantages also came out of the new format. In the original play the action shifted between the past and present. While, the original team achieved this very well in the theatre production, the radio production gave opportunities to use sound to make the jumps even more apparent.

Although The Horror Writer was Emily’s first foray into Horror, it is a genre that has now become more and more important. It is all about the story, telling stories, bringing the audience on a journey that started around camp fires with shadows dancing in the background and evolved in many ways but still retains story telling at its core.

It was also an unusual experience given the current restrictions. While early rehearsals could happen over Zoom when it came to full performance, only the actors were able to be present. This made things a bit more difficult but the team were able to overcome it very well.


With the help of dramaturg Peter Dunne, as well as the able direction of Hugh Hick this is an excellent production which you will not want to miss.

Two out of the three original cast members are back. Sinead Keegan and Philip Arneill revive their roles while Donnacha O’Dea steps into the role of Theo. Sinead and Philip were brilliant in the first production and even better this time around. Although, stepping into the shoes vacated by Brian Burroughs was not easy,  Donnacha is excellent.

Hopefully, it won’t be long before we are all able to get back into the theatres around the country but in the mean time take advantage of this chance to experience a great piece of story telling: Emily Gilmor Murphy’s The Horror Writer on Radio One Extra tomorrow night at 8pm.



Theo: Donnacha O’Dea

Dani/ Marie: Sinead Keegan

Nick/ Patrick: Philip Arneill

Writer/ Producer: Emily Gilmor Murphy

Sound Design: Ciaran Gallagher

Dramaturg: Peter Dunne

Producer: Heather McCloud

Director: Hugh Hick