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Owen O'Neill

Red Noise

April 5, 6, 7, 7:30 pm, Sun, April 8, 2:00 pm


Red Noise is a hybrid of stand-up comedy, theatrical monologue and poetry and O’Neill blends all three to perfection.  True stories from his life include being Struck by Lightning at nine years old and being told he had the cure for cancer.  Being interrogated by an IRA Man with a Stammer (The longest two hours of his life) How his Feature Film Debut with Liam Neeson went horribly wrong.  Being brought up in a family of Sixteen Siblings and having to queue for breakfast.  All this and more in this 90 minute show!


What the critics have said:

“At turns poignant and hilarious O’Neill’s poetry is the most unexpected of performances, but certainly one of the highlights of the festival.” CULTURE NORTHERN IRELAND ****


“He is a prolific writer and tireless performer of his own work-dramatically accomplished,

emotionally charged and very funny. He’s got a darker side too, but what underscores all his work is a deeply poetic spirit which shines through.” THE SPECTATOR *****


“O’Neill is a master storyteller, to call what he does stand-up does not do him justice. This is genuine comedy from the gut.” THE NEW YORK TIMES *****


“O’Neill will take you on a rollercoaster ride, strap in.” THE SCOTSMAN *****


“You can almost smell the burning flesh.” GLASGOW HERALD ****

Owen O'Neill was born in Cookstown, Northern Ireland.  He has drawn on his upbringing in Cookstown for some of his more colourful characters in his standup and theatre work. Early comic influences included W. C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy, and particularly Richard Pryor: "It was also poignant and heartfelt and I realised then that stand-up could be an art-form".  He briefly attended Queen’s University in Belfast studying English, but dropped out and worked various menial jobs in Italy, Amsterdam, and finally London at age 21. 

O'Neill cites his career as beginning in poetry.  In 1981 he entered and won a poetry competition for BBC Radio 4 and his stand-up evolved out of his poetry readings.  He debuted on television in 1985 on Saturday Live.  As an actor, he has appeared in the films Michael Collins and The General.


O'Neill is a veteran of the Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, having performed stand-up or theatre gigs there for over twenty years. He was nominated for the 1994 Perrier Award with his show It's a Bit Like This, and won a Fringe First in 1999 with Sean Hughes for the theatre show Dehydrated and Travellin' Light.  Theatre sets have included 12 Angry Men, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and The Odd Couple. Stand-up has included Off My Face and It Was Henry Fonda's Fault.

O'Neill's play Absolution performed on Off Broadway in 2010 to good reviews. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times praised the effective writing and O'Neill's performance as "hold[ing] the attention fast with its understated, almost offhand intensity."  He won best actor at the Irish Theatre Festival Awards for the role.

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