Iphigenia In Splott

The link between Greek myth and a deprived district of Cardiff is not an obvious one, and Iphigenia in Splott raises this intriguing question tantalisingly. Sherman Cymru’s production presents the answer deftly, and while the eventual reveal is fairly blunt, it does not diminish too much what has come before.

The journey to the end is enthralling.

Far removed from the trappings of ancient Greek palaces, we are presented with Effie - our modern-day Iphigenia. A chance one-night stand with a wounded soldier breaks her heart and presents its own set of problems. Sophie Melville gives the performance of a lifetime as Effie. She is an utterly believable and terrifyingly real vessel of anger, attitude and arrogance. Her storytelling skills are exquisite and it is impossible not to be captivated by her words.

Those familiar with the Greek myth – where the girl Iphigenia is sacrificed by her father Agamemnon to appease the gods and calm the sea – might notice that the story in the above paragraph does not seem to correlate to this. It is quite conceivable that you could come out of this production without realising that it even had its roots in Greek tragedy. This is a very loose adaptation, although Gary Owen’s script is very clever and there are a few hints and nods to the original along the way. Effie teases us with an announcement about the nature of ‘sacrifice’ at the beginning of the play. However, the ultimate reveal of what this sacrifice entails disappoints slightly; it feels a bit blunt and hammers home very unsubtly. Crucially, it seems a bit obvious for what is otherwise a very intelligent script.

But a story is not all about its ending and the journey to the end is enthralling. The story is as much a fascinating character exploration as anything else. This is helped by the minimalistic but superb set-design which provides us with everything we need to appreciate Effie’s story. The use of lighting is genius, but praise too must go to the subtle use of sound throughout the performance.

Iphigenia in Splott is fantastic and while not all of the build-up it creates pays off, the bits that do are very much worth it alone.

Reviews by James Beagon

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The Blurb

'What gets me through is knowing I took this pain and saved all of you from suffering the same.' Effie is the kind of girl you'd avoid eye contact with, silently passing judgement. We think we know her, but we don't know half of it. Effie's life spirals through a mess of drink, drugs and drama every night - till one night gives her the chance to be something more. Written by Gary Owen and directed by Rachel O'Riordan, this powerful new adaptation of the Greek myth drives home the high price people pay for society's shortcomings.