Monday, 31 August 2015

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

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