Born Derry 10th March 1923
Died Belfast 5th April 2004
Indefatigable foot soldier of the Belfast stage, who through the decades embraced the golden age as a Group Player, to bawdy farce at the Arts Theatre in the 1960s and on to become a multivarious character actor at the Lyric during the 70s and 80s.
An early appearance at the Group in April 1946, saw him in the role of Micky McCruddin, opposite Elizabeth Begley, R.H. McCandless and John F. Tyrone in M. Eamon Dubhagan’s comic tragedy ‘The Curse of the Lone Tree’. He continued his apprenticeship later that year as Dan Feaney, in George Shiels’ rural Irish drama, ‘Borderwine’, in a cast of stalwarts including Margaret D’Arcy, Harold Goldblatt and Joseph Tomelty.
Considered a valued member during the remainder of the forties, he appeared in a wide variety of productions, most notably John Coulter’s comedy, ‘Stars of Brickfield Street’, Joseph Tomelty’s bleak social tragedy ‘All Souls’ Night’, both 1948 and Cecil Cree’s ‘A Title for Buxey’, 1949. Despite his established position, his status at the Group was still that of a supporting actor and indeed it wasn’t until the mid-fifties, that he was offered more prominent roles.
He persevered, taking discernible credits in popular plays such as Harry Sinton Gibson’s family drama ‘The Square Peg’ 1950, St John Greer Ervine’s ‘My Brother Tom’ 1952, Tomelty’s ‘April In Assagh’ and his most successful work, ‘Is the Priest at Home?’, both 1954. In 1955 he gave an assured performance as the benign Hamilton Echlin, one of two farming brothers, embroiled in a menage a trois, with able support from Margaret D’Arcy as Sarah Gomartin and James Greene as Frank Echlin, in Sam Hanna Bell’s early 20th century, Strangford Lough set drama ‘That Woman at Rathard’, adapted from his 1951 novel, ‘December Bride’.
Later that same year he appeared as bachelor Frank Bryson in Patricia O’Connor’s three act comedy ‘The Farmer Wants a Wife’, again with James Greene as nephew John and an excellent Kathleen Feenan as the frustrated sweetheart, Margaret Wylie. In the latter half of the fifties, a period that proved to be the last years of the Group as a legitimate theatre, he secured pivotal roles in a number of sterling productions.
He played farmer Christie Crothers in John Crilly’s ‘A Saint of Little Consequence’ in 1956 and was Pegeen Mike’s father, Michael James in a 1957 revival of Synge’s ‘The Playboy of the Western World’, directed by J.G.Devlin. In 1958, he was involved in two contentious plays that would precipitate the demise of the Group Players, both of which would find other more welcoming Belfast stages. He was impressive in a heavyweight cast, playing self-immolation disposed Jim Hanna, in Gerard McLarnon’s eve of ‘Twelfth’ tragedy, ‘The Bonfire’, which after much wrangling and disaffection, was finally staged at the Grand Opera House, in August of that year, directed by the esteemed Tyrone Guthrie.
A few months later, with James Ellis now installed as Artistic Director, following the resignation of Harold Goldblatt, another storm was gathering around Sam Thompson’s ‘Over the Bridge’, an emotive exposition of sectarianism in the Belfast shipyard. Although O’Callaghan did not appear in the eventual presentation at the Empire Theatre in January 1960, he did have a modicum of input as the actors representative, accompanying Ellis in his forlorn discourse with Group Chairman of Directors, J. Ritchie McKee. Ellis duly resigned in the early autumn of 1959, taking with him a considerable number of sympathetic actors, but O’Callaghan stayed put with a rump of peripheral Group Players. On November 1st 1959, the second day of broadcasting on the new UTV channel, he made his screen debut as Michael Quinn in an Armchair Theatre adaptation of Joseph Tomelty’s play ‘A Shilling for the Evil Day’, directed by future Golden Globe winner Charles Jarrott.
In the final months of the Group’s existence as was, he understandably took his fair share of leading credits. In January 1960, two weeks before ‘Over the Bridge’ opened, he was given a co-starring role as Gordon Lavery in Stewart Love’s kitchen sink drama ‘The Randy Dandy’, ironically with a Belfast shipyard backdrop. In August of the same year he was in the cast of Brian Friel’s first stage play, the underwhelming ‘The Doubtful Paradise’, aka ‘The Francophile’, both directed by Jonathan Goodman. For these now occasional productions, the theatre was shared with new tenant James Young, himself a former Group favourite.
He moved across the city to the Arts Theatre in the early sixties and made numerous appearances during the decade in a series of frothy comedies by writer Sam Cree. His first, ‘Second Honeymoon’ in 1962, set the tone for what was to be a long period of drama free product, which ended when he joined the Lyric Theatre at the beginning of the seventies. He exercised his versatility in several median European classics, such as Georg Buchner’s ‘Danton’s Death’, Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui ‘ and for good measure, Sean O’Casey’s harum scarum comedy ‘Purple Dust’, all 1972. This introductory period of regular work proved misleading, as he found the succeeding years at the Lyric less demanding.
Credits in later years included Dale Wasserman’s ‘Man of La Mancha’ 1973, Brecht’s ‘Scheweyk in the Second World War’ 1974 and Patrick Galvin’s Belfast vista, ‘We Do it for Love’ 1975. He also registered decent cameos as Needle Nugent in ‘Juno and the Paycock’ and as the Judge in Brian Clark’s euthanasia themed ‘Whose Life is it Anyway’, both 1979.
His second screen appearance came in 1978, in writer/director Ken Anderson’s basement budget, religious instructional film, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, appearing the following year in the sequel ‘Christiana’, both of which also saw a young Liam Neeson, looking particularly awkward and puzzled as first the Pilgrim and then Greatheart. He was a little less involved in writer/director Jimmy Murphy’s equally stagy and cash strapped, ‘The Touch of the Master’s Hand’, adapted from the Christian poem of the same title and released in 1980.
In the eighties his stage career was confined to a few guest appearances, but he did at last land a role in ‘Over the Bridge’, playing principled shop steward Davy Mitchell, in an Arts Theatre production in 1985. Maurice O’Callaghan, despite his trusty omnipresence at the Group Theatre, found it difficult to infiltrate the inner circle of actors, but who nevertheless was a constant in the cast lists for the greater part of it’s relatively short history.
Other Theatre and Film credits:
All Group Theatre, Belfast unless stated;
-The House That Jack Built(1948)
-Signs and Wonders(1951)
-The House of Mallon(1952)
-The Season’s Greetings(1953)
-A Lock of the General’s Hair(1953)
-Dust Under Our Feet(1953)
-Who Saw Her Die?(1956)
-Ill Fares the Land(1956)
-The Sparrow’s Fall(1959)
-Men on the Wall(1960)
-Cupid Wore Skirts(1965)
-The Boys From the USA(1967) Arts Theatre, Belfast
-The Gay Wolf(1968) Arts Theatre, Belfast
-The Last Burning(1974) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-The Street(1977) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Europe(1978) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Heritage(1980) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-My Silver Bird(1981) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Who Bombed Birmingham(1990)
Una O’Connor (Agnes McGlade)
Born Belfast 23rd October 1880
Died New York 4th February 1959
Loquacious bird- like hardnut, who took her gay nineties Belfast street cred to the Dublin stage and onwards to a fledgling Hollywood, where even at the age of fifty two she managed to carve out a long career in films.
A member of the Abbey Theatre in its early years, Una O’Connor made her debut there in George Bernard Shaw’s ‘ The Shewing up of Blanco Posnett’ 1911 which later toured the USA. This production gave American audiences an early sighting of a theatre company which in years to come would export it’s brightest stars to the brave new world of film.
In a break from the Abbey in late 1914 she joined the newly formed and hopeful opposition to her erstwhile employer, the much grander sounding Irish Theatre Company. Her first appearance was as Audrey in Edward Martyn’s comedy ‘The Dream Physician’ and in 1915 added her considerable weight to other productions such as ‘Pagans’ and ‘ The Pheonix 0n the Roof ‘, all presented at Hardwicke Street Hall, Dublin.
She made her first London stage appearance at the Kingsway Theatre in 1915 in the musical play ‘ The Starlight Express’, adapted from Algernon Blackwood’s children’s fantasy novel, ‘A Prisoner In Fairyland’ and continued to work in English theatre for many years, appearing in plays including ‘ Peg O’My Heart’, ‘Autumn Fire’, ‘ The Man Who Was Thursday’ and a modern dress version of ‘ Macbeth’, staged at the Royal Court in 1928.
A year later at the Apollo Theatre, London, she was part of a huge cast featuring emerging talents Charles Laughton and Barry Fitzgerald, under the direction of Raymond Massey for the premiere of Sean O’Casey’s WW1 tragedy ‘ The Silver Tassie ‘. The play had been rejected by the Abbey hierarchy in 1928, citing the cosily convenient reason, politically sensitive, incurring the wrath of O’Casey and would not be presented at the National Theatre of Ireland until 1935.
Her first film role was as Mrs Weeks in director Sinclair Hill’s drama ‘Dark Red Roses’ 1929 and the following year appeared in an early Alfred Hitchcock thriller, aptly titled ‘ Murder’. In Noel Coward’s ‘Cavalcade’ at Drury Lane in 1931, O’Connor played the part of the housemaid so realistically that it created the character type she was to play for the majority of her film career. She reprised the role in the film version in 1933 which also marked her Hollywood screen debut and she went on to appear in many major films in the golden years. Notable successes included James Whale’s ‘ The Invisible Man’ 1933,’ The Barretts of Wimpole Street’ 1934, John Ford’s ‘ The Informer’ 1935 and the Errol Flynn swashbuckler, ‘ The Adventures of Robin Hood’ 1938.
She was busier still in the forties and worked on several classic productions with screen legends Greer Garson, Ingrid Bergman and Bette Davis in films such as ‘ Random Harvest’ 1942, ‘ The Bells of Saint Mary’s’ 1945 and ‘Of Human Bondage’ 1946. Her conveyer belt film career came to a halt in director Vincent Sherman’s ‘ The Adventures of Don Juan’ 1948 but she was able to continue working at her normal rate in American television plays until 1954. She bid a final farewell to the big screen in 1957, playing housekeeper Janet McKenzie in Billy Wilder’s Oscar nominated ‘ Witness for the Prosecution’, a role she established in the Tony Award winning Broadway production at Henry Miller’s Theatre in 1954.
Una O’Connor’s career had many high points but a critical study would reveal a suppression of genuine talent in a succession of uninspiring roles, which to her credit she played with equal enthusiasm.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– The Well of the Saints(1911) Maxine Elliott Theatre, New York
-An Tincear Agus An Tsidheog(1912) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
-Broken Faith(1913) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
-Duty(1913) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
-The Mineland(1913) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
-The Magic Glasses(1913) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
-Sheridan’s Mills(1932) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
-The Marriage Packet(1934) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
-The Ryan Girl(1945) Plymouth Theatre, New York
-The Linden Tree(1948) Music Box Theatre, New York
– The Shop at Sly Corner(1949) Booth Theatre, New York
– The Enchanted(1950) Lyceum Theatre, New York
– Orient Express(1933)
– Bride of Frankenstein(1935)
– Father Brown Detective(1935)
– Rose Marie(1936)
– Call It A Day(1937)
– We Are Not Alone(1939)
– The Sea Hawk(1940)
– The Canterville Ghost(1944)
– The Return of Monte Cristo(1946)
– The Corpse Came C.O.D(1947)
– Heaven and Charing Cross 1949)
– Ladies in Retirement (1951)
– That Ryan Girl (1952)
– Mrs Moonlight (1952)
– Buried Treasure (1953)
– The Shop at Sly Corner (1954)
Born Belfast 13th August 1977
Largely unsung but capable actor, equally at home on both stage and screen, who was still of primary school age when he appeared as Young Scrooge in the pantomime ‘A Christmas Carol’, at the Lyric Theatre Belfast in 1988.
Following studies at LAMDA, circa 1998, he was cast by director John Crowley in the minor role of Irregular Mobiliser, in an acclaimed production of ‘Juno and the Paycock’ at the Donmar Warehouse London in 1999, which featured a cast of notable Irish actors including Colm Meaney and Dearbhla Molloy.
Between 2001/04 he managed a work schedule which embraced both classic and pulp in equal measure. Whilst honing his skills in standards such as ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ for the English Touring Theatre in 2001, in which he played the reluctant celibate Dumaine and the more central role of Finn in Angela Carter’s ‘The Magic Toyshop’, at the Soho Theatre London in 2002, he had certainly no highbrow hang-ups in his choice of screen work, making an anonymous television debut in the SAS themed ‘Ultimate Force’, 2002.
His introduction to the big screen came a year later when cast as Flag Lt. Gillette in the first of Ted Elliott and Terry Rosario’s seafaring fantasy adventure romps, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’.
On television he was given a much better opportunity this time, playing mercenary bomber Sean O’Halloran in the WW2 set crime drama series Foyle’s War’, 2003. Two principle stage credits during 2002/03 saw him first at the Crucible, Sheffield in 2002 as the shallow Vincent in Peter Gill’s beautifully observed 1950s Cardiff, social drama, ‘Small Change’ and as Osvald Alving in Ibsen’s morality play ‘Ghosts’, at the Lyric, Belfast in 2003.
A run of television roles in 2004, in series such as ‘Red Cap’, ‘Holby City’ and the docu-drama ‘If ‘, was followed by his valiantly delivered John Everett Millais, in Gregory Murphy’s harshly reviewed, ‘The Countess’, in what was an anaemic revival of the former Off-Broadway hit, at the Criterion Theatre, London in 2005. He more than compensated for his disappointment in ‘The Countess’, with a potent performance at the Royal Exchange, Manchester in 2006, as hardman/pimp, Harry, in Tom Murphy’s violence laced family drama, ‘A Whistle in the Dark’, depicting the choleric lives of an Irish family in early sixties Coventry.
Minimal television work in 2007 preceded his second film appearance, an also starring role as Anthony in writer/director Sean Ellis’ fantasy horror tale ‘The Broken’ and as Hippolito in a contemporary production of Thomas Middleton’s early 17th century, blackest of black comedies, ‘The Revenger’s Tragedy, again at the Royal Exchange, both 2008.
The best of his television roles in 2008/09, was as new locum Dr. Nick Burnett, in multiple episodes of the medi-drama series ‘The Royal’ and as Rory Wallace, a BBC cameraman working with a group of journalists in Central Africa, in the comedy/ drama ‘Taking the Flak’. The series ran for one season in 2009 and featured an excellent Martin Jarvis as the vainglorious Chief Foreign Correspondent, David Bradburn.
At the Chichester Festival Theatre in 2009 he gave a powerful performance as the hero Tom Joad in an outstanding production of John Steinbeck’s great American classic, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, directed by an inspired Jonathan Church. In a rare big screen appearance in 2011, he reprised his role of Flag Lt. Gillette, in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’, having been omitted from the second and third in the series in 2006 and 2007. At the National Theatre’s, backstage, Paintframe Studio in 2011, as a part of the experimental Double Feature Programme, he appeared as Miller in Sam Holcroft’s dystopian exposition,’Edgar and Annabel’ and as Luke in Tom Basden’s black comedy ‘There is a War’.
In 2012 he played Ellison Hatfield in director Kevin Reynolds’ Golden Globe winning mini-series, the post- American Civil War drama, ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ and a year later was Declan, in Joe and Tony Gayton’s Western themed television series, ‘Hell on Wheels’. Damian O’Hare’s stage credentials to date, outstrip his screen achievements by a wide margin, and this in time may prove the natural order of things.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
Born Newry 1963
Efficient character player, a Manchester Metropolitan University graduate in 1986, reading Acting, Theatre and Television, whose interest developed with the local Newry Youth Drama Group in the early 1980s. He made his professional stage debut as punishment shooting victim Arthur, in Christina Reid’s challenging West Belfast set drama ‘Joyriders’, which premiered at the Tricycle Theatre, London in 1986, with a cast featuring Michelle Fairley and the tragic Fabian Cartwright.
A year later in his first screen appearance he was Turkington, one of a group of aspiring footballers in Frank McGuinness’ undervalued teleplay ‘Scout’, overseen by first time director Danny Boyle with pinpoint performances by Ray McAnally and Stephen Rea. That same year he was offered a more expansive opportunity to shine with a recurring role as struggling musician Niall Usher in director Tony Bicat’s mini-series adaptation of Stewart Parker’s ‘Lost Belongings’. At the end of the eighties he was busiest on television, most notably as the inevitably doomed pilot Flip Moran in the excellent mini-series ‘Piece of Cake’, based on the butterfly lives of Spitfire pilots during the early years of WW2.
On stage in 1989 he took a co-starring role in writer John Logan’s drama ‘Never the Sinner’, presented at the Theatre Royal , Bath, with Joss Ackland as the great American liberal lawyer Clarence Darrow. During the early nineties he was active in both theatre and television and included roles at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast in Eugene O’Neill’s alcohol fuelled masterpiece ‘The Iceman Cometh’, Frank McGuinness’ ‘Factory Girls’ at the Tricycle Theatre, London, both 1990 and on screen in 1993, guest appearances in the comedy series ‘Luv’ and the crime drama series ‘Between the Lines’.
Further television work saw him in the long running ‘Cracker’ 1994 and the culinary inspired, less than dark crime drama series ‘Pie in the Sky’ 1996. In theatre in 1997 he made an also- starring West End appearance in another Sebastian Barry personal memory play, this time his tale of religion on the margins, the 19th century, West Cork set ‘Prayers of Sherkin’.
In the early autumn of 1997 he played a central role as stand-up comedian Franco Murphy in the Tinderbox production of Daragh Carville’s surreal comedy drama ‘Dumped’, first staged at the Royal School, Armagh, which following a low-key Irish tour was expected to open in London but was subsequently withdrawn. With the exception of a small guest appearance in an episode of the police drama series ‘The Bill’ in 1998, he took a voluntary absence of leave, re-emerging on the small screen in director Rebecca Frayn’s uncompromising social drama ‘Whose Baby?’ in 2004.
After almost eight years since his last stage role, Nicolas Kent, Artistic Director at the Tricycle Theatre, who remembered him from his work in ‘Joyriders’, offered him a cameo role in his 2005 exacting dramatization of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, entitled ‘Bloody Sunday: Scenes from the Saville Inquiry’. The production, sixth in the Tricycle’s Tribunal Plays series, deservedly won the 2006 Olivier Award For Outstanding Achievement. Gerard O’Hare’s self imposed exile occurred in his mid -thirties, excising a sizable chunk from a career that had begun a decade earlier with much promise and a reasonably successful rage against type.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– Mumbo Jumbo (1986) Lyric Theatre, London
– Lady Betty (tour) 1989
– Les Miserables (1992) Nottingham Playhouse
– The Playboy of the Western World (1994) Almeida Theatre, London
– The Silver Tassie (1995) Almeida Theatre, London
– Northern Star (1996) Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin
– Taggart (1989)
– Saracen (1989)
– Screenplay (1990/1992)
– 2Point4 Children (1994)
– Dangerfield (1995)
– Wilderness (1996)
Born Belfast 1965
Angular and pensive Manchester University graduate and Central School trained character player with a varied CV, comprising of localised political drama, assorted populist content and an increasingly fine line in the classics.
His first major stage appearance was in the title role of Robin Glendinning’s ‘Donny Boy’ at Manchester Royal Exchange in 1990 and for several years thereafter scraped a living in repertory theatre.
He made an uncredited television debut in an episode of the two season series ‘Rides’ 1993 and in 1997 made his first big screen appearance as Friday Knight in the asinine ‘Sunset Heights’, writer/director Colm Villa’s forgettable film of inter- gang violence in Belfast.
In a major boost to his stage career he landed the role of gangster Wayne Hudson in Ben Elton’s huge hit ‘Popcorn’, which premiered at the Playhouse Nottingham in 1996 and ran for six months before transferring to the West End in 1997. At the Abbey in Dublin in 1998, in his first collaboration with playwright Gary Mitchell, he took the part of Freddie the psychotic loyalist paramilitary godfather in the acclaimed ‘As the Beast Sleeps’. The following year at the Royal Court he appeared in another Mitchell play, ‘Trust’, in the not too dissimilar role of Geordie, another UDA recruit, whom he played with equal menace and conviction.
He was a little less successful on screen, mustering a small part in John MacKenzie’s little seen Irish produced independent film ‘When the Sky Falls’ in 2000 and a co-starring role in the Dublin set television series ‘Anytime Now’ 2002. That same year he reprised his stage role of Freddie in the television adaptation of ‘As the Beast Sleeps’, a performance which although praiseworthy, did not fully capture the potency of the original.
In 2003 he appeared in two contrasting Owen McCafferty’s plays, the bittersweet comedy ‘Shoot the Crow’ at Manchester Royal Exchange and his much praised panorama of a day in the life of Belfast, ‘Scenes from the Big Picture’, a National Theatre production presented on the Cottesloe stage. He was now most definitely delivering on stage, but his chances of a cinematic breakthrough seemed no closer, following a mid-casting role in director Renny Harlin’s mediocre, ‘Exorcist the Beginning’ in 2004.
As usual it was his stage work which gave him perspective and was no better illustrated than his role of Michael Carney in Tom Murphy’s dark domestic drama ‘A Whistle in the Dark’ at Manchester Royal Exchange in 2006. In 2009, in a role most definitely against type, he played Deputy Sheriff Dwayne Hopper in director Craig Singer’s small budget horror film ‘Perkin’s 14’, which unfortunately did little to enhance his indifferent screen persona. He was better though in the title role of Toby Frow’s somewhat surreal re-working of Marlowe’s generally overlooked masterwork ‘Doctor Faustus’, a creditable journey into the dark arts presented at Manchester Royal Exchange in 2010.
Following his award -winning performance as Jimmy, in Owen McCafferty’s forceful, all-Ireland touring production of ‘Quietly’ in 2012, he worked for the most part in television. He took a recurring role as Francesco II Gonzaga, in Neill Jordan’s re-working of ‘The Borgias’, a guest credit in HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’, both 2012 and a had a brief sighting as Paul Spector’s line-manager Charles Chandler, in Allan Cubitt’s psychological drama ‘The Fall’ in 2013. Further television work included the role of Legassik, in director Philippa Lowthorpe’ s lame adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s gothic novel ‘Jamaica Inn’, aired in 2014. Director Ivo van Hove then cast him as the autocratic Creon, in his 2015 international tour with Jean Anouilh’s Greek tragedy ‘Antigone’, an understated contemporary translation which featured Juliette Binoche as the eponymous heroine.
Patrick O’Kane may not become a force in cinema, but he is an undeniably efficient theatre actor who has proved his worth time and again in a diverse catalogue of character playing.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– The Life of Stuff(1993) Donmar Warehouse, London
– Medea (2000) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
– Romeo and Juliet(2000)NT Olivier Theatre, London
– The Playboy of the Western World(2001) NT Cottesloe, London
– Closing Time (2002) NT Lyttleton Theatre, London
– Cold Comfort (2005) Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast
– Insignificance (2005) Lyric Hammersmith, London
– Macbeth(2007)RSC Swan Theatre, Stratford
– The Crucible (2010) Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, London
– Octane (2003)
– In the Red (1998)
– A Rap at the Door (1999)
– Holy Cross (2003)
– Holby City (2005)
– Five Days( 2007)
– Wire in the Blood (2007)
Born Belfast 11th July 1978
Exuberant stage and screen player whose progression in theatre has been prolific since his graduation from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1999, his studies funded by a grant from the Cameron Mackintosh foundation.
His professional stage debut was in dual roles as the slave Xanthias and playwright Euripedes in a functional interpretation of Aristophanes’ Greek comedy ‘The Frogs’ at Nottingham Playhouse in April 1999. His first television appearance later that year was a walk-on part in writer Murray Smith’s television mini-series thriller ‘Extremely Dangerous’, starring perennial action man Sean Bean.
Further theatre work saw a sudden propulsion in fortune, landing the title role in Gillian Lynne’s musical pantomime ‘Dick Whittington’ at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London in December 1999. Steady employment in 2000 included stage and television, higher profile in theatre and much less so on screen.
He was the hero Kipps in the Yorkshire Playhouse production of David Heneker’s well travelled musical comedy ’Half a Sixpence’ and the slow and mischievous Doalty in Brian Friel’s sublime ’Translations’ at the Watford Palace Theatre. Brief television appearances included director Ian White’s aptly named ’Thin Ice’ and the hospital soap ’Holby City’.
From 2001 he was ably crossing media, with theatre most certainly considered his day job. A range testing sequence on stage during 2001/04 produced many exceptional performances. He was the irritatingly arrogant Justin in Frank McGuinness’ WW2 Donegal set ’Dolly West’s Kitchen’ at the Haymarket Theatre, Leicester in 2001 and the cautious 36th Ulster Division trench soldier William Moore in another McGuinness character rich piece, ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme’ at the Pleasance Theatre, London in 2002.
A stint at Birmingham Rep in 2003 stretched him a little more, with pivotal roles in David Hare’s swipe at the British legal profession, ’Murmuring Judges’ and Arthur Miller’s award winning New York tragedy ’A View From the Bridge’. A number of guest appearances in television series such as the crime dramas ’A Touch of Frost’ 2002 and ’Murphy’s Law’ 2003, preceded his recurring role as young Belfast based solicitor Dessie in the one season comedy ’I Fought the Law’ 2003. A minor involvement in director Richard Janes’ crime comedy ‘Fakers’ in 2004 was followed by a co-starring role as IRA bomber Harry Duggan alongside Michael Colgan in the 2005 television film ‘The Year London Blew Up: 1974’.
He continued unabated in theatre, joining the RSC and was quickly into his stride, taking the role of Jimmy in Ron Hutchinson’s disturbing three- hander ‘Head/Case’ at the Swan Theatre, Stratford in 2004. At the same theatre in 2005 he appeared in a number of plays, collectively titled ‘The Gunpowder Season’, playing King Prusias in ‘Believe What You Will’, Simonides in ‘A New Way to Please You’, Nero in ‘Sejanus: His Fall’ and Robert Catesby in ‘Speaking Like Magpies’. A fifth play, in which he was not involved, ‘Thomas More’, completed the series, which later in 2005 presented at the People’s Theatre, Newcastle and finally at the Trafalgar Studios, London.
During 2007/08 he straddled both stage and screen again cast as Jed in the comedy ‘Someone Else’s Shoes’ at the Soho Theatre, London in 2007 and Edmond in director Rupert Goold;s production of ‘King Lear’ starring Pete Postelthwaite, first at the Liverpool Everyman and then the Young Vic in 2008. On television, two guest roles in 2007 were followed by an also starring credit as Lazar in writer director Edward Zwick’s WW2 action film ’Defiance’ 2008.
A longer residency at the RSC from 2009 began with two Shakespearean standards. He was Orlando in ’As You Like It’ and Dromio in a ’Comedy of Errors’ at the Courtyard Theatre, Stratford and at the same venue, a splendid returning war hero Illya, in the Durnenkov brothers black comedy ’The Drunks’. His strong run with the RSC continued through 2010/12 with sparkling performances as Mercutio in a touring production of ’Romeo and Juliet’ in 2010 and comfortable with modified Belfast accent, as Richard in Roxana Silbert’s adaptation of Richard III at the Swan Theatre, Stratford in 2012.
A television film role in 2012 did not stand easily with his stage profile, a median credit as Lipton in director Ben Palmer’s sitcom ’Bad Sugar’, but he corrected the ludicrous imbalance starring opposite Billie Piper in ‘The Effect’, Lucy Prebble’s well received emotional roller coaster ride through the ill-defined world of drug testing, presented on the National’s Cottesloe stage in 2012/13. At the Royal Court that same year, he was outstanding as the capricious Jonah, in Alistair McDowall’s black comedy, ‘Talk Show’, performed on the Jerwood Stage, Downstairs.
On television during 2014/15 he made appearances in a number of series, most notably in ‘The Assets’ and ‘The Fall’, both 2014 and in Simon Donald’s thriller, ‘Fortitude’ in 2015, set in Arctic Norway, in which he played miner, Ciaran Donnelly, opposite Richard Dormer’s Sheriff Dan Andersen. Two substantial stage roles in 2015 were well within his compass; A formidable performance as the tormented John Proctor in ‘The Crucible’, presented at the Royal Exchange, Manchester was followed by his lovelorn and immature Posthumus, in Shakespeare’s tragi -comic ‘Cymbeline’, at the Globe Theatre’s, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, directed by Sam Yates. Despite a general paucity of significant screen work, Jonjo O’Neill more than compensated for this by a concentration of effort to acting in it’s purest form.
Other Theatre and TV credits:
-Paradise Lost(2004) Theatre Royal, Northampton
-Faustus(2006) Hampstead Theatre
-Morte D’Arthur(2010) Courtyard Theatre, Stratford
-Silence(2011) Hampstead Theatre
-The President Has Come to See You(2103) Royal Court, Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
– Unreachable(2016) Royal Court, Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
– Band of Brothers(2001)
– First Degree(2002)
Born Armagh 28th August 1960
Assertive and diverse character actor and proficient performer in musical theatre, whose role playing has, from a plebeian stage introduction in 1987, encompassed a myriad of genres. Following periods of study at the Brendan Smith Academy of Acting and the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin in the mid-eighties, he made his professional debut as an unnamed servant in ‘The Rivals’, R. B. Sheridan’s study of highborn subterfuge, which opened at the Gate Theatre Dublin in December 1987. In 1989 he began in earnest to establish at least the bones of a theatre profile, appearing at venues a little left of mainstream, in productions as arcane as ‘Crock of Gold’ and ‘Virginia’ with the TCD Players and ‘The Ghost of St. Joan’, presented in true avant garde fashion in September of that year at the Black Church in Dublin.
Two roles in 1991 saw him first at Andrews Lane in Dublin as Michael in former Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel’s caustic one-act comedy ‘Unveiling’ and then at the Druid Theatre Galway as Father Kirwan in a revival of Paul Vincent Carroll’s Catholic Church exposition ,’Shadow and Substance’. He returned to Andrews Lane in 1993 as the hapless, forsaken Gordon, in Australian playwright Andrew Bovell’s singles at large comedy, ‘After Dinner’ and followed this with the role of Stoney in the premiere of Johnny Hanrahan’s family drama ‘The Art of Waiting’, at Cork Opera House in 1994. That Year he made his first television appearance as Big Jack in an episode of BBC’s Screen Two series, entitled ,‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’, writer/director Barry Devlin’s observations of would be religious apparitions in a rural backwater of Northern Ireland in the 1950s. In the latter half of the nineties he was more active on the Belfast stage, with appearances at the Arts and Lyric Theatres. At the Arts in 1997 he was cast as Dr. Jim Bayliss in director Zoe Seaton’s interpretation of Arthur Miller’s ‘All My Sons’ and at the Lyric took dual roles as Maurice Oakley/Priest, in a respectable adaptation of William Nicholson’s tear -jerking bio of C.S. Lewis’ ‘Shadowlands’.
His irregular screen output amounted to supplementary parts in television films such as writer Julia Taylor-Stanley’s account of the Lucan enigma, ‘Bloodlines: Legacy Of A Lord’ 1997 and the war drama ‘Miracle at Midnight’ 1998, starring Sam Waterston and Mia Farrow. His range was then rigorously tested in a colourful cycle of character playing in the early years of the new millennium. At the Library Theatre, Manchester in 2000 he played disinclined suitor Pato Dooley in Martin McDonagh’s much travelled morbid comedy, ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’ and returned there a year later as devoted but cause prone husband Frank Sweeney in Brian Friel’s acclaimed three hander, ‘Molly Sweeney’. Between 2002/04 his stage work cut a swathe across a variety of classics, with appearances in a series of theatre standards through the ages. This heavyweight itinerary comprised of a tour with Tom Kilroy’s translation of Ibsen’s ‘The Ghosts’, an effectual ‘Macbeth’ at the Tivoli in Dublin, both 2002, another tour as the submissive poker playing Vinnie in Neil Simon’s ‘The Odd Couple’ 2003 and as the smuggler Mangan in Dion Boucicault’s comic 19th century melodrama ‘The Shaughraun’ at the Abbey in 2004. During this time he also registered his first feature film credit, playing Marchand in director Kevin Reynold’s remake of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ 2002, made at Ardmore Studios in Bray, Co. Wicklow and starring Richard Harris and Jim Caviezel.
In 2007 he was given the opportunity to raise his screen persona a notch, albeit within the Irish dimension, when he landed the role of Tim Carney, childhood friend of avowed ladies man Leo Dowling, in RTE’s Dublin based soap ‘Fair City’, appearing in multiple episodes between 2007/08. Another big- screen role came with his cameo as jocular boatman Fergus, in director Vic Sarin’s feelgood family drama ‘A Shine of Rainbows’ 2009, filmed on location in Donegal, with a cast headed by nominal Irishman Aidan Quinn. Stage roles in 2014 were of incidental value and included two productions at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, both in the faithful retainer category. He was Mason the butler in Ethan McSweeney’s adaptation of Wilde’s ‘An Ideal Husband’ and the verbose, god-fearing servant Joseph, in Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, directed by Anne- Marie Casey.
His singing expertise, used sparingly throughout his career and usually in the musicals of Paul Boyd, proved a vital asset, particularly in leaner times. Such productions include ‘Hansel and Gretel’ 1997, at the Riverside Theatre Coleraine, ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’ 1998, at the Lyric Theatre Belfast, ‘Pinocchio’ 2003 and ‘The Haunting of Helena Blunden’ 2010, both at the Market Place, Armagh. Karl O’Neill is by and large unfamiliar to the greater percentage of the hoi polloi, but down the years and in the tradition of the true repertory professional, he has expertly filled the gaps in cast lists, no matter the story line.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– The History of the World At 3am (1996) Andrews Lane Theatre, Dublin
– Twelfth Night (1999) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Big Maggie (2001) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
– Letters to Felice (2001) Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghhaire
– Winter Came Down (2003) Ramor Theatre, Virginia Co. Cavan
– Rhinoceros (2003) Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast
– Speaking in Tongues (2004) Civic Theatre, Dublin
– The Wizard of Oz (2007) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Cabaret(2014) The Mac, Belfast
– Marie Curie: More Than Meets the Eye (1997)
– The Tudors (2007)
– Kilnascully (2008)
– Brendan Smyth: Betrayal of Trust(2011)
– Life of Crime(2013)
– Ripper Street(2016)
Tara Lynn O’Neill(James)
Born Belfast 1975
Sanguine and personable actor of hitherto median range, whose first acting experience was as a member of Sandy Olsson’s gang in an Ulster Theatre Company production of ‘Grease’, which opened at the Riverside Theatre Coleraine and enjoyed a subsequent brief tour which included the Grand Opera House Belfast and Cork Opera House, during the summer of 1994. In 1996 she made her first television appearance as a co-presenter on the long running ‘Saturday Disney’ show and returned to the stage in 1996/97, with the local travelling company, Replay, a schools based initiative, charged with introducing theatre to the classroom.
In her film debut, director Jim McBride’s Irish produced, small budget, troubles based drama, ‘The Informant’ 1997, she played a fresh faced RUC officer in a cast which included Timothy Dalton and Stuart Graham and a year later took a another low-key credit in the rural Irish set drama ,‘Crossmaheart’, based on Colin Bateman’s second novel ‘Cycle of Violence’.
The same year, as a young recruit to the Lyric Players, she appeared in several productions, including ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’, the latter as part of the Belfast Festival At Queens.
In 1999 she took small role in another Irish film, Dudie Appleton’s relatively successful comedy, ‘The Most Fertile Man in Ireland’, but found herself suitably lost within the considerable locally assembled cast.
A much better year in 2001 brought her roles in the Tinderbox production of Owen Mc Cafferty’s ‘No Place Like Home’ and in two films, Colin Bateman’s black comedy ‘Wild About Harry’ and a significant part as Elaine Cassidy’s school friend Mags, in Kirsten Sheridan’s directing debut, the dark and edgy ‘Disco Pigs’.
Cashing in on the success of the latter, she was offered decent parts in two American television productions, the Irish set drama ‘Bobbie’s Girl’ 2002 and alongside Helen Mirren, who took the Vivien Leigh role in the rather lifeless remake of the Tennessee Williams novella, ‘The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone’ in 2003.
Between 2002/03 she landed arguably her highest profile to date, that of Phil Mitchell’s troublesome nanny, Joanne Ryan in ‘Eastenders’, where she remained until her contract expired in the late summer of 2003.
Instead of an expectant career boost she experienced a somewhat lean period, producing only a modicum of consequential work, which included a small part in Paul Greengrass’ television docudrama ‘Omagh’, 2004 and the lead role in Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’ at the Lyric Belfast in 2006. In arguably the most challenging dramatic role of her career to date, she played composed and practical Northern Irish politico, Sandra Richardson, in Tinderbox Theatre Company’s splendid production of David Ireland’s angst ridden and darkly comic,‘Everything Between Us’, which premiered at the Bruce Montgomery Theatre, Philadephia in March 2010. A supporting credit as Shauna in director Terry Loane’s 2012 television drama, ‘At Water’s Edge’, was followed by a similar casting in writer/director Paul Kennedy’s disappointing N. Irish produced, ‘Made in Belfast’, 2012.
She then of course took her place in the burgeoning cast list of Alan Cubitt’s remarkably successful, Belfast set, ‘The Fall’, appearing in three episodes of series one in 2013. In another Belfast inspired crime drama series, the RTE produced ‘Farr’ in 2015, she was Detective Jennifer Conroy, on the trail of local crime boss Cormac Farr, played with controlled menace by Ian Beattie. Back on stage that same year, she was underused as the autocratic and incautious Gerie Sue, in Abbie Spallen’s political satire, ‘Lally the Scut’, performed at The Mac, Belfast.
Meritorious screen snapshots and a rising, if functional stage persona do not a career make and although gifted, Tara Lynne O’Neill requires more higher profile opportunities, if she is to place herself beyond that of a capable utility player.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– Lay Up Your Ends (2009) Grand Opera House, Belfast
– Fly Me to the Moon(2012) Grand Opera House, Belfast
– Becoming Jane (2007)
– Pure Mule (2005)
– Fair City(2008)
– Line of Duty(2014)
Born Belfast 4th March 1971
Appealing and competent second lead actor, who has strangely fallen short of veritable stardom. She made her television debut aged sixteen as Debbie, in director Tom King’s drama ‘Final Run’ in 1988. A founder member of the influential St Louisa’s College, Belfast, drama group, Marillac Theatre Company, whose alumni also included the commendable Kathy Kiera Clarke and theatre director Emma Jordan.
She toured Ireland with the group, performing the ‘Hedgey Road’ plays, eventually appearing on the Olivier stage at the National Theatre, London, having landed the National Theatre Youth Award for 1989. Following studies at the Webber Douglas Academy, London in 1992, she worked in low- key fringe productions with the Moving Theatre Company under Corin and Vanessa Redgrave, the Everyman Theatre and Gate Theatre, London.
Her return to television was fleeting, appearing in an episode of ‘The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles’ in 1993 and two years later was signalling her ability in a co-starring role as Elena, in director Simon Shore’s romantic drama ‘The English Wife’.
A breakthrough came when Pat OConnor cast her as the sympathetic and supportive student Eve Malone, in the 1995 film adaptation of Maeve Binchy’s novel ‘Circle of Friends’, a story of sexual repression in late fifties Ireland. Following this film debut success, she received many work offers and included the lead role of novice nun Mariette Baptiste, in writer Ron Hansen’s well regarded independent film, ‘Mariette in Ecstasy’ 1996, working alongside husband- to- be, cinematographer Paul Sarossy.
That year also saw her as Alice Quigley, daughter of pacifist schoolteacher Helen Mirren, in Terry George’s award winning study of the 1981 republican hunger strikers,’ Some Mother’s Son’, which featured a memorable cameo by John Lynch as the fatalistic IRA commander Bobby Sands.
Two years later she was in native dialect mode again, this time as loyalist paramilitary groupie Heather Graham, in director Marc Evans’ harrowing Shankill butchers based, ‘Resurrection Man’, with a strong Ulster born cast, including, James Ellis, James Nesbitt and Derek Thompson.
She time travelled once more to 1950s rural Ireland, where in the 1998 television mini series adaptation of John McGahern’s novel ‘Amongst Women’, she held her own as Mona, in a sterling cast which included Susan Lynch as her sister Maggie and Tony Doyle as stern patriarch, Moran.
From 2000 her screen appearances have been few but she did have a leading role in husband Paul Sarossy’s psychological thriller ‘Mr In Between’ and followed this with a creditable performance in Enda Walsh’s pitch black comedy, ‘Disco Pigs’ both 2001.
From then however, projects have been almost non-existent and Geraldine O’Rawe, perhaps due to extraneous circumstances, has to date, not quite fulfilled the promise she revealed during a particularly bright period in the mid nineties.
Other Theatre and Film credits:
– Bohemian Light(1993) Gate Theatre, London
– The Flag(1994) Bridge End Theatre, London
– The Harpist (1997)
– I Want You (1998)
– The Killing Kind (2001)
Born Belfast 10th February 1965
Unfailing and decidedly committed theatre actor, a graduate of Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre in the mid eighties, who made an early low- key stage appearance in the British premiere of Neil Simon’s ‘Biloxi Blues’ in 1987.
A year later he played the brittle and feeble-minded son, Linton Heathcliff in John Boyd’s adaptation of Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ at the Lyric Theatre Belfast and so began his long association with local theatre.
In the early nineties he appeared in several Old Museum Arts Centre productions, including, Hugh Murphy’s ‘Justice’ 1992 and as Ken in Gary Mitchell’s debut play ‘Independent Voice’ 1993.
Following sound performances at the Lyric in ‘Taming of the Shrew’ 1994 and ‘Wind in the Willows’ 1995, he made his first television appearance as Michael Ahern, in Jack Higgin’s action thriller, ‘On Dangerous Ground’ 1996.
In 1997 his reputable stage persona was consolidated in two further Lyric productions, Glyn Robbins’ ‘Voyage of the Dawn Trader’ and the Queens Festival presentation of John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’.
During 1998/99 he appeared wastefully in a number of Irish produced films, with minor roles in Colin Bateman’s ‘Crossmaheart’ and the West Belfast set Julie Walters vehicle, ‘Titanic Town’, both 1998 but was rescued with a marginally more meaningful role in writer Jim Keeble’s 1999 comedy, ‘The Most Fertile Man in Ireland’.
One year on he was cast adrift again in yet more films with Belfast backdrops, writer/director Mary McGuckian’s football bopic, ‘Best’ and John Forte’s bland teenage caper ‘Mad About Mambo’
From 2000 he found more important assignments on stage, in productions as diverse as the musical play ‘Once Upon a Mattress’ at the Lyric, ‘Tis a Pity She’s a Whore’, for the Babel Theatre Company and Mark Ravenhill’s shockingly brutal, ‘Shopping And F..cking’ at the Old Museum Arts Centre, all 2001.
Mercifully due to his lowly credit rating, no aspersions were cast his way in the dreadful 2002 television remake of Orson Welles’ 1942 masterpiece, ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’, an explicit case indeed of crass tampering gone berserk.
In 2004 his theatre credentials were augmented by some worthy performances in plays such as ‘Borderland’ for Theatre 7.84 at the A/E in Edinburgh and as Pavel in Ivan Turgenev’s ‘Fathers and Sons’ in Washington DC.
The following year he won further acclaim as Mojo, in ‘MojoMickybo’, a Kabosh Theatre Company production of Owen McCafferty’s tragi/comic tale of innocence and inevitable betrayal. In 2009, after an absence of several years off-screen, he could only muster minimal work, taking a fringe role as Liam Neeson’s driver in director Oliver Hirschbiegel’s BAFTA nominated, ‘troubles’ atonement piece, ‘Five Minutes of Heaven’. He did fare a little better with his also-starring credit as Uncle Joe in another Ulster set drama, the Lisa Barros D’sa directed ‘Cherrybomb’, starring ‘Harry Potter’ star Rupert Grint.
On stage in 2010 he was cast in dual subsidiary roles as Berrylucre/Magistrate, in the Lyric’s production of Moliere’s 17th century satirical comedy, ‘The Miser’, performed at the similarly aged surroundings of the Elmwood Hall, Belfast. From 2011/12, he has appeared irregularly in theatre, touring with Janet Behan’s ‘Brendan at the Chelsea’, and Pearse Elliott’s black comedy, ‘The Christening’, both 2011. At the Lyric Theatre, Belfast in 2012, he was cast as the decorous governess Miss Prism, in director Graham McLaren’s sparkling revival of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, in a cast which also featured Paddy Scully and Aaron McCusker.
It would be unfair to describe Richard Orr as a mere utility player, despite the superficiality of his screen career but rather that he has served his time well in his medium of choice.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– An Ideal Husband (1993) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Death of a Salesman (1998) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– John Bulls Other Island (2004) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– A Sort of Homecoming (1994)
– Eureka Street (1999)
– I Fought the Law (2003)