Owen Roe to get special tribute award at Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards

‘His ability to freeze the elusive and contradictory essence in a physical gesture is the mark of a great actor’

Actor Owen Roe will receive this year's special tribute award at the 22nd Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards in the new year.

The award is for the well-known actor's body of work, which includes memorable roles in theatre, particularly for Rough Magic and the Gate Theatre. One of Ireland's most skilled and versatile film, TV and theatre actors, Roe has been in films including Michael Collins and Intermission. He was in the legendary satirical radio series Scrap Saturday, and more recently played Insp Rynne in detective series Baldi for BBC Radio 4.

Owen Roe played Claudius in the recent Hamlet at the Gate, where other roles have included in The Great Gatsby, Festen, Da and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. At the Abbey he was in The Plough and the Stars, and the title role of King Lear. Rough Magic productions have ranged from Digging for Fire to Melt.

Irish Times arts and culture editor Hugh Linehan said, "It would be hard to think of a more worthy winner. Owen Roe has been at the heart of much of the most memorable Irish theatre of recent decades. As an actor, he combines nuance, insight and delicacy with a powerful onstage presence. I have no doubt the many colleagues and friends who have worked with Owen over the years will be delighted to see him receive this recognition."


In 2014, aged 55, Roe played Romeo in A Tender Thing, reimagining of the star-crossed lovers' story if they hadn't died. "I've always got the role of the baddie or the conman," he commented at the time, "and that's never bothered me, because the Devil always gets the best lines, but at my age, getting the chance to play Romeo? You can't turn that down."

Fintan O'Toole praised Roe's "searing performance" as Frank Hardy in Brian Friel's Faith Healer at the Gate in 2010. "He has a face large enough to magnify the smallest movements. Now and then . . . he gives his features a truly terrifying cast. The lively eyes go cold. The charm and plausibility evaporate. The forehead stretches, the cheeks become sharp and hard and the mouth is twisted into something between a grin and a grimace . . . The ability to do this, to freeze the elusive and contradictory essence of Frank Hardy in a physical gesture, is the mark of a great actor. Which is, rather wonderfully, what Owen Roe has become."

Owen Roe won best actor in the Irish Times Theatre Awards for a number of roles in 2006 – Rough Magic's The Taming of the Shrew, and Catastrophe and Festen at the Gate. He was nominated for best actor or supporting actor in 2005, 2012 and 2017.

The nominees for the 22nd Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, for work produced in 2018, will be published on January 19th. The ceremony, in association with TileStyle, will be at the National Concert Hall on Sunday, March 31st, and tickets will be on sale in the new year.

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey is a features and arts writer at The Irish Times