Iphigenia in Splott at the National Theatre
Devastating, heart-breaking, and powerfully modern, this one-woman show will leave even the most hardened and apathetic soul bleary-eyed and questioning our society.
Iphigenia in Splott, directed by Rachel O’Riordan, begins with a caricature of a drunk, Welsh, council-flat girl flopping around on stage so the very white, middle class audience, with their expensive coats and red wine, can all have a good laugh. This play begs the audience to either laugh at it or hate it. But by the end, no one is doing either.
Sophie Melville is Effie, a painful wreck who the audience goes from turning their noses up at to desperately wanting to reach out and hug. This tragic, real-life drama pounds on the heart like a heavy sledge-hammer. Through rich dialogue and narrative, the character develops on stage until the audience begins to forget that she’s not one of them.
Melville is flawless. She performs for 75-minutes non-stop and never falters. Effie’s emotion is raw and familiar and painful, and Melville makes it real. But it’s not just the sadness that she gets right: her comic timing is superb as she delivers a number of humorous lines that are met with roars of laughter.
The plot of Iphigenia in Splott, written by Gary Owen, drags one way before yanking back the other. It seems to end up being the opposite of how it begun without anything really changing. Owen does an incredible job of playing on the audience’s sensibilities, predispositions and even prejudices to completely shatter their world.
Iphigenia in Splott is a rousing call for an immediate revolution. The story takes a crushing emotional toll for the simple reason that it is far too close to home and too real to cope with. This play transcends intelligent commentary. It is an important work of our time.
Photos: Mark Douet
Iphigenia in Splott is on at the National Theatre from 27th January until 20th February 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Iphigenia in Splott here: