First performed three years ago, The Belly Button Girl returns to the Dublin stage at the New Theatre. This is one of the most personal and enjoyable theatre experiences in Dublin. (Contains some spoilers)
The play is written and performed by Tom Moran. It is an engrossing story about hope and love and loss. It could have been a chapter from Ulysses if Joyce had taken a detour to a twenty first birthday party in the Dingle Parochial Hall. Moran is on stage for over an hour and gives a flawless performance. The play is funny throughout thanks to the sparkling script which is only improved by the Moran’s perfect timing.
It is also hilarious thanks to the comical characters who Moran skilfully brings to life. In addition to the eponymous Belly Button Girl, there is Cousin Sharon, Sambuca Lady, Massive Lad, Longford Miguel and Don the Taxi Driver. Some of the characters play only a fleeting part but I didn’t think there were any minor characters as they all play a significant role in the hero’s journey.
Indeed, the whole play is a journey both physically and metaphorically. It starts in Dublin and then moves to Dingle for Cousin Sharon’s twenty first birthday part in Dingle Parochial Hall. It then takes a mini tour around some of the sights of Dingle: Sambuca Lady’s ‘virginity beach’, the bottle bank, the halting site. It then travels across the country to Portabello and onto Swords before returning to Dingle for the finale.
As we see everything through the eyes of our hero we inevitably become attached to his ups and downs and there is no doubt that the audience are rooting for him. He may be a bit of an eejit at times but he is a lovable eegit which frailties that we all recognise and which endear him to the audience.
Each of the meetings between our hero and the other characters is more important that just a plot device. Sambuca Lady, who, we are told is morbidly obese and also as we learn the local taxi driver, spends most of her time in the play drinking sambuca and eating smoked salmon which she has taken from the buffet and stuffed into her handbag befriends our hero at the twenty first. Don the Taxi Driver whose belly shakes each time he puts his foot on one of the pedals brings our hero back from the hotel in Swords and accepts a gift voucher in lieu of cash for the taxi ride.
The other main character is obviously the Belly Button Girl of the title. The bulk of the play follows the relationship between our hero and her. For the former it is six months of bliss before they break up and after a short period of moping he gets his life back together, getting his job back and even finding a new apartment all the time wishing that the Belly Button Girl was there to see him getting his life together.
The play comes to its conclusion as our hero returns to Dingle. Once again he goes for Cousin Sharon’s birthday party in the Parochial Hall. though, we know that he has an ulterior motive. Unfortunately, Sambuca Lady does not make it there, but we see the Massive Lad and our hero gets a bit too close to the Massive Lad for comfort.
The play is hilarious throughout. However, there are moments of profound thought and feeling and emotion. Moran received a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the first night and I would book a ticket now if I were you as this is going to sell out very quickly. This is one of the best plays I have seen in Dublin in a while and well worth checking out.
And I wondered, what would it be like if we bought a house together.
And what would it be like if we had a child together?
And what would it be like if she died first?
Actor/ Writer: Tom Moran
Director: Romana Testasecca
Set Designer: Ursula McGinn
Lighting Designer: Eoin Lennon
Stage Manager: Ciara Gallagher
Duration: 65 mintues (without interval)
Tom Moran’s The Belly Button Girl can be seen nightly at the New Theatre until till the 18th May at 7.30pm and there is also a matinee on Saturday at 1pm.