A graduate of the Ecole de Jacques Lecoq (2008-2010), Bob Kelly has performed on most major Irish stages as well as in notable European venues including The Louvre, The Royal Ballet School, Theatre13 Paris and Theatro Massimo in Cagliari.
Work in 2017 includes Once: The Musical (Landmark), Nivelli’s War (Cahoots, New Victory NY), Samuel Beckett’s Play (Blue Raincoat). While in Paris he received critical acclaim for his stage work in l’Ecrivain Public (Plateforme). In 2012 he was nominated for an Irish Times Theatre Award for his work in The Poor Mouth (Blue Raincoat). He speaks several languages and has performed lead roles in French (l’Ecrivain Public) and in Italian (Cabaret Emotivo).
Other theatre work includes The Picture of Dorian Gray (Abbey Theatre), The King of the Great Clock Tower (Royal Ballet School), Five Minutes Later (Sugarglass), Country Girls (Red Kettle), Macbeth (The Mill), Cabaret Emotivo (Theatro Stabile de la Sardegna) and Pinnochio (Cahoots NI). With Blue Raincoat Theatre Company he has performed in At Swim Two Birds, Rhinoceros, On Baile’s Strand, First Cosmonaut, The Poor Mouth, and Playboy of the Western World.
On film, Bob played Sean Heuston in Abú Media’s 1916 Rising TV series Seachtair Dearmadha. He has also performed in a number of short films including Foxglove (Technowolf), Withdrawal (El Zorreo) and Without Words (Technowolf).
Bobs works extensively in the Irish voiceover industry, and has fronted campaigns for the GAA, Lidl and others.
He is represented by Voicebank.
Recent projects include Samuel Beckett’s Footfalls (Director, Blue Raincoat, 2017), The Rallying Call (Writer, Blue Raincoat, 2016) and The Big Wall (Writer/Director, Hawk’s Well 2016). Bob’s first short film, the award-nominated Foxglove (Writer/Actor), is currently circulating festivals. In 2013 he adapted & directed the world-renowned fantasy author Jeff Vandermeer’s novella Dradin, in Love for stage. In 2015 his stage work was featured in the US publication The Steampunk User’s Manual: An Illustrated Practical and Whimsical Guide to Creating Retro-Futurist Dreams.
Bob is currently Theatre Artist in Residence at the Hawk’s Well.
Working under the name Tribe Theatre, Bob has developed fantasy work for children (How to Wrestle a Polar Bear), as well as several site-specific works for youth theatre, drawn from historical documents (The Marshalsea, Sligo Gaol). In 2013 he collaborated with Laoise O’Brien on a piece to accompany live performances of her music drawn from fairy tales, Sonnets from the Cradle.
Bob is a qualified youth worker with a Higher Degree in Applied Social Care/Sozialarbeit from IT Sligo/FH Joanneum, Graz. He is a previous director of County Sligo Youth Theatre and a past board member of the National Association for Youth Drama (NAYD). He has led theatre programmes for a wide range of youth and disability groups, including various youth theatres, European youth encounters, and performing arts schools.
He is also a past chairperson of Frontline Actor’s Co-operative, and a past member of the Equity Executive.
Kelly is outstanding as the kindly sports coach who slips up.
– Sunday Times on Let the Right One In (2017)
Bob Kelly gives a masterclass in European-influenced physical theatre, his tortured face and wracked body bearing the brands of all manner of human ravages….
– Culture NI on Nivelli’s War (2017) (Nominated for UK Theatre Award)
Just look at the arresting Kelly, finally smiling at his reflection and moving spryly… this is a daring ‘Playboy’.. a fascinating new production..
– The Irish Times on Playboy of the Western World (2015)
Bob Kelly’s turn as Christy is riveting and complex. One minute he’s a poor put-upon creatur destroyed by the harshness of life. The next he’s a transparent fantasist… captures the dark mania resident in Synge’s play… a vivid and provocative experience.
– The Irish Examiner on Playboy of the Western World (2015)
..the perfectly executed wordplay of Bob Kelly and Ciaran McCauley…
– Campus.ie on Rhinoceros (2011)
Bob Kelly as Berenger was superb.
– Waterford News & Star on Rhinoceros (2011)
The actors are exemplary (a special mention for Bob Kelly in the role of Lansko, vibrant with emotion and humour)…
– Theatrorama on L’Ecrivain Public (2010)
Bob Kelly/Lansko is absolutely remarkable in intelligence and sensitivity…
– Philippe du Vignal on L’Ecrivain Public (2010)
Into this world… enters Lankso (the superb Bob Kelly)
– Au Poulailler on L’Ecrivain Public (2010)
Lively, generous, Bob Kelly incarnates him strongly & well.
– l’Humanité on L’Ecrivain Public (2010)
A strung-up Christy Mahon is specially grounded by Kelly, his body deftly balanced so as to grapple the infernal rope and spin the scene around him. What settles is a brutal display of penal punishment….
– Musings in Intermissions on Playboy of the Western World (2015)
Wildness and vengefulness well to the fore from Bob Kelly’s Christy…
– The Sunday Independent on Playboy of the Western World (2015)
Cuchulain has always been known for his ego, and Bob Kelly rounds it off with roaring ferocity. Yet there is something stately about his performance, more reasoned than instinctive, that allows you to better understand the hero’s frustrations and unwillingness to settle with a woman or have children… our protector has become a law onto himself. Yet… you feel that you can never truly condemn Cuchulain…
– Musings in Intermissions on On Baile’s Strand (2014)
Bob Kelly… a dishevelled, yawning, reprobate – in short, our kind of guy.
– Irish Times on Rhinoceros (2011)
A touching story illuminated by the presence of a young actor unknown to us, Bob Kelly… who incarnates [the role] in a striking manner… imposing the youth, energy, anger, and sensitivity of a young man who must become an adult sooner than he could ever want…
– Figaro on L’Ecrivain Public (2010)
The actors all have presence, with a particular salute to Bob Kelly, who lends such beautiful life to the character of Lansko…
– Les Trois Coupes on L’Ecrivain Public (2010)
What empathy with the young refugee… at last theatre that daringly exposes its emotions – all its emotions! A triumph!
– CultureCie on L’Ecrivain Public (2010)
We cannot but share in the triumph of Colette Nucci, the Director of Theatre13, for this show… it is a young Irish actor, Bob Kelly, that revives the role of Lansko. Displaying vivid emotion throughout the performance, his interpretation is remarkable. He combines rage and gentleness, violence and fragility with skill….
– Pariscope on L’Ecrivain Public (2010)
…Interpreted with depth and sensitivity by Bob Kelly…
– FigaroScope on L’Ecrivain Public (2010)
a glorious piece of theatre… a wacky waltz to the stars…….simple and subtle character changes… a study in discreet clowning….masters of their craft.
– Edinburgh Guide on First Cosmonaut (2014)
Poetry and profundity from apparently simple ingredients… [the cast’s] command of mime-based movement is clear to see.. displaying verve and versatility in a variety of roles.
– All Edinburgh Theatre on First Cosmonaut (2014)
brilliant … the cast morph brilliantly through a range of roles.
– The Scotsman on First Cosmonaut (2014)
infinite invention… a beguiling piece of theatre.
– Herald Scotland on First Cosmonaut (2014)
Dradin in Love (2013)
Based on the novella by Jeff VanderMeer, 3-time winner, 12-time nominee for the World Fantasy Award, Dradin was developed in partnership with the Granary Theatre, Cork in May 2013. It was performed in The Granary and at An Taidbhearch Theatre, Galway as part of the Galway Theatre Festival 2013.
Dradin is a young missionary who has returned to the fictional city of Ambergris after a long and disastrous sojourn in the jungles. He finds himself alone, penniless and in the depths of despair, when he suddenly falls in love with the silhouette of an unknown woman in a window. Aided by a devious and untrustworthy thief named Dvorak, he attempts to woo the strange woman, but it is the night of the Festival of the Freshwater Squid, when the city traditionally erupts in a paroxysm of violence, murder and mayhem, and Dradinís search for love leads him into a fight for his life, and a final confrontation with his illusions.
As an interlude within this drama, we also present The Exchange, the story of a man and a woman who meet to exchange gifts on the night of the Festival of Freshwater Squid.
athletic and enterprising performances astutely adapted and directed.. an imaginatively realised piece of work.
– Irish Theatre Magazine
A real labour of love bustling, degenerate energy there is a visual verve to this production that is quite a rarity on an Irish stage.
– Evening Echo