Iphigenia in Splott: Standing Ovation for Sophie Melville
As Iphigenia in Splott comes to the end of its run at the Lyric Hammersmith, we were lucky enough to catch a packed-out matinee performance and Sophie Melville did not disappoint
Gary Owen’s critically acclaimed and powerful monodrama inspired by the Greek myth is a real story of our times. Iphigenia, in Greek Mythology, was the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. She was offered up for sacrifice to appease the goddess Artemis. This modern retelling sees Iphigenia – Effie – make a huge sacrifice, the likes of which will alter her life forever.
“What is gonna happen, when we can’t take it anymore”
Directed by Rachel O’ Riordan with a stellar performance by Sophie Melville, Iphigenia tells the story of Effie a young woman in Splott (Wales). She drinks too much and swears too much and parties too much until an event changes her life forever. For seventy-five minutes, Melville completely commanded the stage. We were drawn into Effie’s story, unsure at first about whether to like her or not. She’s sort of awful, but also kind of incredible. There is such truth and authenticity in this performance that you can’t help but get sucked into this world.
Owen has taken this classic tale and re-vamped it for a modern audience. When you watch Iphigenia in Splott you almost feel as though you’ve been punched in the stomach, multiple times, by the time the house lights come on again.
The play examines the harsh reality for people like Effie in towns and cities like Splott, places and people who have been left behind. Abandoned by the government and the establishment, but they are nevertheless still fighting for their right to live and their right to live well. With the current state of the government, this adaptation has never felt more relevant.