Liam Carney as Harvey Marr in Abbey Theatre's new production of Drum Belly by Richard Dormer.  Opening on 10 April (previews from 5 April), nightly 7.30 pm

Brooklyn New York in the summer of 1969 is the setting for the Abbey Theatre’s new production of Richard Dormer’s raw edgy thriller Drum Belly which receives its world premiere on the Abbey stage on Wednesday, 10 April 2013.  Drum Belly is the Abbey Theatre’s first collaboration with one of Ireland’s most insightful and exciting playwrights, Richard Dormer (best known for his performance as Irish snooker star, Alex Higgins in Hurricane, which he wrote and starred in) and the talented and inspiring theatre director Sean Holmes (currently Artistic Director of London’s Lyric Hammersmith Theatre).


Whilst the world stands in awe of man landing on the moon, Gulliver Sullivan and his small time Irish hoods struggle to make a buck in a merciless criminal underworld.  Their strategy to manoeuvre a truce with Italian mobster Marconi is in jeopardy when $100,000 goes missing, so one of the gang is destined to pay the ultimate price.


Welcoming the Abbey Theatre’s new collaboration with these talented artists, Director, Fiach Mac Conghail said:  “We are proud to be presenting a new play by Richard, which we commissioned.  It is a great story, set on the weekend of the historic first moon landing, and telling the story of a group of second-generation Irish in the underground world of the mafia in Brooklyn.  I’m delighted to be collaborating with director of the Lyric Theatre, London, Sean Holmes – a theatre artist who I have admired and welcome to the Abbey Theatre for the first time.”

The Abbey Theatre has assembled ten of Ireland’s finest actors to play an all male cast in Drum Belly.  These include regular Abbey stage actors Gerard Byrne, Liam Carney, Declan Conlon (a recent recipient of an Irish Times Theatre Award for best actor in Tom Murphy’s The House), David Ganly, Gary Lydon, Ciarán O’Brien, Karl Shields, Phelim Drew and Ronan Leahy (the latter two actors are currently appearing in King Lear), and rising young star Ryan McParland who is making his Abbey Theatre debut.


In Drum Belly, writer Richard Dormer gives us a window on an emigrant Irish underworld striving to retain its sense of identity, family honour and loyalty to each other, despite the depravity, greed and violence of their lives.  Set in an iconic period of world history, the fast paced dialogue is peppered with black humour, and textured with the rhythm and cadences of gangster street talk.  It is a slice of Irish American life that contrasts starkly with the heroic lives of generations of New York Irish.


In tandem with his Abbey stage debut with Drum Belly, Richard Dormer can also be seen playing Terri Hooley, Belfast’s punk godfather, in the film Good Vibrations which goes on general release in Ireland and the UK on 29 March.  Music also features strongly in Drum Belly with some memorable 1969 rock and gospel music tugging at the strings of nostalgia for this iconic musical decade, as well as Michigan rock band The Stooges who were regarded as instrumental in the rise of punk rock in the 1970s.


Raw, passionate, aggressive, violent, Drum Belly is a powerful portrayal of what it is like to grow up as an Irish gangster on the mean streets of New York.


Following on from Drum Belly, the Abbey Theatre is delighted to premiere writer Elaine Murphy’s play Shush on the Abbey stage in June.  Elaine Murphy, celebrated for her smash hit Little Gem, will be the latest female writer to premiere work on the Abbey stage since Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats in 1998.



Drum Belly

World Premiere

An Abbey Theatre Commission

for the Abbey Stage

Directed by Sean Holmes



Opening:  Wednesday, 10 April 2013 and runs until Saturday, 11 May 2013

Previews:  Friday, 5 April – Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Times: Monday – Saturday 7.30pm, Saturday matinee 2pm

Ticket prices: €13 – €40 (Conc. €13 – €23)


Assisted performances

Sign Language Interpreted Performance: Thursday, 9 May 2013

Captioned & Audio Described Performance:  Saturday, 11 May 2013

Booking information

Tel:  01 878 7222


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