Iphigenia Crash Land Falls on the Neon Shell That Was Once Her Heart (A Rave Fable)

The premise of Caridad Svich’s Iphigenia Crash Land Falls on the Neon Shell That Was Once Her Heart (A Rave Fable), here performed by Clumsy Bodies Theatre, is truly exciting. The play is a female reclaiming of the Iphigenia myth translated into the contemporary rave scene amidst political turmoil and horrific femicide. Dripping in poetry, this project promises a lucid and colourful revaluation of one of the West’s oldest stories. However, having witnessed this Edinburgh production, I could not help feeling that the play itself was seriously flawed and did not live up to its potential, did not reach the heights of its stylistic predecessors in writers like Mina Loy, Caryl Churchill and Sarah Kane. While certainly not the fault of Clumsy Bodies Theatre this did seem to hold the company back; the production was not able to overcome the problems posed to live performance in Svich’s script.

Ultimately this production is weird rather than wonderful.

Generally speaking the aesthetic of the piece is consistent, although everything could have been louder and brighter. Jennifer Walton’s lurid music and Caitlin Ivory’s lighting fuse in a suitably psychedelic – if not intense – meeting of mediums which is most effective in a passage that sees Iphigenia experience an extended trip. Details have been considered too; a black birthday balloon is a nice addition to the overall design. But whirring behind the actors is a screen showing various images of warfare and pop culture: central to the drama of the play, this is a poorly put together film that fails to justify or explain its presence. Yet nonetheless it does have its moments – a cinematic passage introducing the figure of Achilles as he has been portrayed through cultural history is a rare instance of the film complementing the themes of the text.

Blocking and choreography are handled with mixed results and the acting is not bad. Jess Rahman-Gonzalez as Iphigenia is capable of mustering a piercingly vacant stare and realises their character most fully towards the end of the play, culminating in a well-rehearsed closing monologue. Sam Kindon’s Achilles is another of the show’s stronger points as he slinks about the stage on his quest for pleasure and oblivion. However, Kindon’s physicality is more impressive than his spoken acting: there are times when his slow drawl reduces his character to pastiche. The ensemble needs to be credited too as some of the most challenging scenes involve everyone in the cast, but again the choreography in these passages needs more work to avoid undue cluttering of the stage.

Clumsy Bodies Theatre deliver an important message in Iphigenia Crash Land Falls on the Neon Shell That Was Once Her Heart (A Rave Fable), but ultimately this production is weird rather than wonderful.  

Reviews by Sam Fulton

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Contemporary adaptation of the perennial Greek myth that has long denied the voice of its heroine. Desperate to outrun her fate, Iphigenia finds refuge in an underground aircraft-hangar-turned-rave, where the dead come to escape the living and a world obliterated by fear. In this multimedia journey, Iphigenia leaves behind General Adolfo, the father who wants her dead, to seek out unspoken desires and unadulterated pleasures, and survive the horrors of her past among murdered factory workers and the legendary Achilles. Finally hear Iphigenia speak.