Skip to main content

Iphigenia in Splott

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Five stars

When Gary Owen's explosive state of the nations address that reimagined Greek tragedy in twenty-first century Cardiff was first seen in Edinburgh during the final week of the 2015 Festival Fringe, its hoodie-wearing protagonist evoked the spirit of broken Britain with a sound and fury that left others standing. Here Iphigenia was reborn as Effie, a binge-drinking, one-night standing emotional and physical fireball in a woman's body, who had nothing to lose except her benefits because everything's been closed down.
 
Six months on, and Rachel O'Riordan's production for the Cardiff-based Sherman Cymru company looks even more vital as it goes out on a tour which needs to be seen as far and widely as possible. While Owen's monologue, delivered with machine-gun ferocity by a fearlessly wonderful Sophie Melville, is in part a call to arms, that it achieves this with a wit and a rich poetic life-force makes it even more special.

Alone in the spotlight, Effie recounts her personal odyssey that sees her move from back-street boozer to an ill-fated dalliance with an injured squaddie who's been thrown onto the scrap-heap just as much as she has. What sounds initially like motor-mouthed gossip to impress her mates becomes a damning litany on the painfully real consequences of the dismantling of the NHS and the welfare state.

Every single politician and civil servant responsible for such a move should be frog-marched to see this show wherever it plays. Maybe when Effie stares them in the eye, accusing them from the depths of her being, they might yet develop a conscience in the face of the most important play of the moment.

The Herald, March 7th 2016

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…