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Iphigenia in Splott

Pleasance Dome
Five stars

Don't mess with Effie, the hard-nosed, hard-drinking, shag-happy heroine of Gary Owen's blazing reinvention of Greek myth that bursts onto the streets of Cardiff with a lust for life that matches Effie's motor-mouthed and alco-popped libido. Into the Friday night mess Effie meets a squaddie war veteran whose leg has been blown off in action. This doesn't prevent Effie from getting pregnant following their one-night stand that leads ultimately to tragedy by way of an ill-equipped ambulance that crashes while rushing her to an even worse resourced hospital.

Laced throughout with a ferocious back-street Cardiffian poetry, Owen's play is brought to brawling life in Rachel O'Riordan's ferocious production for Cardiff's Sherman Cymru. A stunning Sophie Melville strides through the littered striplights of Hayley Grindle's set as they pulse into life or else black out like a stopped heart machine.

As with most of us, it's only when the worst happens that we're kick-started into action, and Effie's everyday radicalisation comes with her final words which, accompanied by a piercingly defiant stare, suggests revenge is coming. In this way, Effie is the personification of a society that isn't going to put up with austerity-led public sector cuts anymore, and the thugs currently attempting to vandalise the NHS and Britain's welfare state into submission should be very scared indeed.

The Herald, August 31st 2015

ends

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