Before he ventured onto the Western New York theater scene in which he now plays a leading role, Vincent O’Neill was a featured performer in Dublin’s famed Abbey Theatre. His biggest success at that storied company was Ulick O’Connor’s “Joyicity,” a one-man, one-hour tour – seemingly powered by one breath – through the strange, rhythmic prose of James Joyce.
After the Abbey, O’Neill performed the play at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and in Toronto, and eventually in Buffalo in 1991. The next year, he took it to the off-Broadway Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City, where he earned rave reviews from critics and audiences. On Thursday, O’Neill will bring the words of his favorite writer back to life on the Andrews Theatre stage at the Irish Classical Theatre Company (625 Main St.) in a production of “Joyicity” co-sponsored by the Just Buffalo Literary Center.
The piece has built-in appeal for die-hard Joyce fans, though it may be a heavier lift for those unfamiliar with the Irish writer’s complex body of work. When the show opened in Buffalo, The News’ critics were divided. Critic Terry Doran called the show “a marvelous tour de force we haven’t seen the pale likes of in theaters here,” while contributing reviewer Anthony Chase called it “a somniferous ho-hum.” Audiences can see for themselves starting Thursday.
Tickets to the show, which runs through Jan. 27, are $25. Call 853-4282 or visit www.irishclassical.com.
In this video, O'Neill talks about the play that launched his career:
— Colin Dabkowski