Writer: Gary Owen
Director: Rachel O’Riordan
Reviewer: Abbie Rippon
What a powerful force Iphigenia in Splott is. You feel adrenaline pulsing through your veins just watching it. It is gripping, fiery, passionate, and, most poignantly, honest from start to finish. Once the applause dies down you are left staggered and breathless.
Gary Owen has written a true masterpiece. It is not common to find a man who can write for female character with such truth and depth but Owen is right on the mark with our heroine Effie, played by Sophie Melville. Like the original myth of Iphegenia, this is a play about sacrifice, about what we are all sacrificing as a society due to cuts in our public funding. In ancient Greece, theatre was about learning something more about yourself and society and Iphigenia in Splott draws from these roots and offers a horrific and chilling moral for its audience.
Melvile, as Effie, tells her story in a gripping one act monologue. But this is more than a monologue; it is a tireless, zealous, humorous and at times hard-faced telling of her tale. Melvile’s performance is a force to be reckoned with, sharp, precise and perfectly executed. Effie is a fiery Welsh woman of the British underclass with a witty tongue to rival Wilde and a shameless confidence that magnetically draws you to her.
Directed by Rachel O’Riordan, Effie’s world feels chaotic, messy, aggressive and her emotional and physical journey is strikingly portrayed. O’Riordan’s direction allows the audience no respite, she makes the tilts and turns of Effie’s story and emotions so luring and dynamic, yet at the same time so truthful; the audience are transfixed.
Cocktailed with the eerily atmospheric set and technical design by Hayley Grindle, Rachel Mortimer and Sam Jones, this is one of the most exceptional productions of the decade. It leaves you with a feeling like your heart has been gripped behind your rib cage and hours later you are still waiting for the grip to loosen. It does what theatre should do; see things in another light. You leave ready to call for accountability in a world where cuts are devastating our communities.
The Everyman is the last stop on this productions regional tour. I urge you, if you do nothing else this weekend, get a ticket to see this show and feel the adrenaline for yourself.
Runs until Saturday 16April 2016 | Image:Mark Douet