It’s baffling how a play can premiere many years ago, and yet a whole pandemic later, the play feels more timely than ever before. That’s exactly how Iphigenia in Splott feels.

Credit: Jennifer McCord.

Gary Owen’s critically acclaimed play premiered in Cardiff at the Sherman Theatre in 2015. Owen wrote the monologue in response to David Cameron’s austerity policies. Somehow with the cost of living crisis we currently find ourselves in, the play could have equally be written about the current Tory government.

Iphigenia in Splott centres around Effie, a working class, young and unemployed girl from Splott, a district in Cardiff. Sophie Melville reprises the role of Effie, and is simply mesmerising. Melville barely stops to draw a breath during this 75 minute monologue, during which she takes you through a rollercoaster of emotions. Melville’s Effie is loud, foul mouthed and straight to the point. There’s no pretences with Effie, you get what you see and she is refreshingly honest.

Not to give too much away, but this show is about the stuggles of a young working class women, who others underestimate and undervalue. The script takes influence from the Greek myth which sees Iphigenia make the ultimate sacrifice for others. In this play she does so, despite the fact she’s helping the people that people judge her upon first glance.

Credit: Jennifer McCord.

The staging of this production is simple, Hayley Grindle uses bars of lighting, which are placed behind Melville, and a couple of chairs only. Throughout the performance the lighting design (by Rachel Mortimer with Hayley Grindle) and sound design (by Sam Jones) work together in harmony to ensure emotion is invoked within the audience as the piece sees fit. Melville ceases every opportunity to illicit emotional responses in her audience and is truly captivating. Rachel O’Riordan’s direction is timed to perfection, with the pace quickening and slowing at the required moments. O’Riordan’s show is as perfectly timed as a dance performance which creates a stunning show.

With such important themes interwoven masterfully throughout the script, such as social injustice, class issues and stereotypes. At its heart, this play reminds us never to judge a stranger, as we never know what they’ve lived through.

Iphigenia in Splott, could be the play of our time, and Melville’s the performance of our time. Melville gives a masterclass in the art of one-person performance, and is heartwrenchingly sensational. This play moves you completely, and stays on your mind long after you’ve left the theatre. This is truly remarkable theatre, and one that cannot be missed.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Iphigenia In SplottLyric Hammersmith Until 22nd October


{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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