Bob Kelly


Bob graduated from the Ecole de Jacques Lecoq in 2010, and since then 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.  Recent work includes Once: The Musical (Landmark), Nivelli’s War (New Victory, New York), Samuel Beckett’s Play, On Baile’s Strand and Playboy of the Western World (all Blue Raincoat).  While in Paris he received critical acclaim for his stage work in l’Ecrivain Public.  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).  He will next appear in John Tiffaney’s Let the Right One In at The Abbey.

“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…”
Jane Coyle, Culture NI on Nivelli’s War



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 – Foxglove – was recently shot by TechnoWolf films and is currently circulating festivals.  In 2013 he adapted & directed the world-renowned fantasy author Jeff Vandermeer’s novella Dradin, in Love for stage.  For youth theatres, he has adapted several site-specific works drawn from historical documents (The Marshalsea, Sligo Gaol) and has also developed work for children (How to Wrestle a Polar Bear). 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.

“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…”
Padraic Killeen, Irish Examiner on Playboy of the Western World



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.




Press & Reviews

Playboy of the Western World (2015)

Just look at the arresting Kelly, finally smiling at his reflection and moving spryly… this is a daring ‘Playboy’.. a fascinating new production.. Peter Crawley, The Irish Times

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…. Chris McCormack, Musings in Intermissions

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. Padraic Killeen, The Irish Examiner

Wildness and vengefulness well to the fore from Bob Kelly’s Christy… Emer O’Kelly, The Sunday Independent

Macbeth (2013)

Kelly’s choice is a perfect fit, filled with the gravitas and unsettling pace that make the words of Shakespeare come to life… will leave you stunned with gleeful awe… simply a must see. Siren

L’Ecrivain Public (French Media) (2011)

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

What empathy with the young refugee… at last theatre that daringly exposes its emotions – all its emotions! A triumph! CultureCie

The actors are exemplary (a special mention for Bob Kelly in the role of Lansko, vibrant with emotion and humour)… Theatrorama

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

…Interpreted with depth and sensitivity by Bob Kelly… FigaroScope

Into this world… enters Lankso (the superb Bob Kelly) Au Poulailler

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

Bob Kelly/Lansko is absolutely remarkable in intelligence and sensitivity… Philippe du Vignal

Lively, generous, Bob Kelly incarnates him strongly & well. l’Humanité

Frank Pig Says Hello (2005)

Bob Kelly and John Rogers are an unnerving duo as the schizophrenic youth.. Irish Times

The two actors (Bob Kelly and John Rogers) use skilful energy and a series of well-devised, snapshot characterisations to sketch the boy’s murky, disturbing world. Irish Theatre Magazine

On Baile’s Strand (2014)

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… Chris McCormack, Musings in Intermissions

Nivelli’s War (2014)
(Nominated for UK Theatre Award)

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, Jane Coyle

Five Minutes Later (2014)

Played with tenacity… Kelly strikes the balance well in a turn that babbles but shapes out a masculinity that is lonely and, startlingly, violent…. Musings in Intermissions

Kelly’s ventures into violence – as Matt’s isolation tipples into a hatred of women – turn the play into a tragedy, and it is his message which is the most disturbing and most memorable of the entire performance…. Heather Keane, tn2

Rhinoceros (2011)

Bob Kelly as Berenger was superb. Waterford News and Star

..the perfectly executed wordplay of Bob Kelly and Ciaran McCauley…

Bob Kelly… a dishevelled, yawning, reprobate – in short, our kind of guy. Irish Times

First Cosmonaut (2014)

(Ensemble Reviews)

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

brilliant … the cast morph brilliantly through a range of roles. The Scotsman

infinite invention… a beguiling piece of theatre. Herald Scotland

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

Highly technical and rhythmical…you do not simply go to ‘see’ the play but rather you experience it in its fullest as a multisensory event…. beautifully realised. Irish Theatre Magazine