Iphigenia in Splott has opened at the Lyric Hammersmith in London.
Gary Owen’s critically acclaimed and powerful monodrama is inspired by the Greek myth of Iphigenia, and comes to the Lyric after acclaimed runs at the Sherman Theatre in Wales and the National Theatre.
The Lyric’s Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan directs Sophie Melville, who reprises her role as ‘Effie’ in the play after winning The Stage Award for Acting Excellence and an Evening Standard Award nomination for Best Actress.
Iphigenia in Splott is playing at the Lyric Hammersmith until 22 October 2022.
Here’s a reviews round-up of Iphigenia in Splott including reviews from the Times, Telegraph, Guardian and more.
Iphigenia in Splott reviews
"A shattering modern classic that distils all our troubles"
"Gary Owen’s magnificent one-woman monologue brings Greek tragedy to Cardiff and reveals the terrible emotional costs of our societal shortfalls"
"Now, Gary Owen’s magnificent, eviscerating play still speaks to us about the sorry state of our nation but feels as if it was written for this year, month, and moment. That is partly down to coincidental timing but also to its artistry."
"[Sophie Melville] is a natural storyteller, swaggering as she takes us through the one-night stands and three-day hangovers that comprise her life. Melville somehow manages to encapsulate both the kinetic verbal highs of one of Irvine Welsh’s trainspotters and the stillness of Alan Bennett’s lonely women, observing the world with gimlet-eyed glances through the net curtain, gestured at in the luminous slats of a window blind on Hayley Grindle’s set."
"In 2015, a fellow critic at this paper described this play as “perfect theatre”. It is exactly that now. Everyone should see this shattering modern classic. No one will remain unmoved."
"Sophie Melville is extraordinary"
"The play, with its urgent message about deprivation, is made by Melville’s savagely moving performance"
"Sophie Melville gives a stunning, combative, savagely moving performance in Gary Owen’s 75-minute monologue about an exuberantly hedonistic young working-class Cardiff woman."
"Melville’s performance is extraordinary. Full of sass and sneer in a vest and trackie bottoms, hips defiantly jutting and her walk a predator’s lope, she both fills and owns the Lyric stage, the largest space this show has so far occupied."
"The script is pacy and spare. Any misgivings about a man telling a woman’s story are largely allayed by this being an otherwise female-led project. Lyric boss Rachel O’Riordan, who premiered the show in Cardiff and later took it to New York, must take credit for the deft pacing."
"Euripides goes to credit crunch Cardiff in this down and dirty ‘skank’ monologue"
"It hit the stage with the force of a comet at its 2015 premiere. This revival proves it hasn't lost any of its invective force"
"It remains a dark and dirty piece of work, a gobby, spleeny, spit-splattered invective that wears its Euripidean allusions slyly..."
"Iphigenia’s greatest weapon is its ferocious theatrical poetry. Melville gives a magnificently modulated performance as Effie, daring the audience to admit their assumptions abut the type of person she is even as she sets about detonating them. She’s a hollowed out fireball of aggro and loneliness craving ordinary things that remain out of reach. With a new round of public spending cuts rumoured to be on the cards to achieve growth, Iphigenia in Splott makes no bones about just who in Britain will be cast as the sacrificial lambs."
"An intense, volcanic performance"
"Gary Owen’s monologue forces you to pay this young woman full attention. In the handsome surroundings of the Lyric Hammersmith we’re at a safe distance as she rages back and forth across the stage. But Sophie Melville’s performance is so intense, so volcanic, that it still feels at times as if she is shouting in your face."
"For all of Melville’s passion, some elements fail to convince. The parallels with the mythical figure of Iphigenia — sacrificed to the gods by her father, Agamemnon — seem tenuous, for one thing. And the righteous final sequence veers perilously close to a party political broadcast as we’re invited to see Effie as the victim of austerity."
"Astounding and essential cry of rage and pain against Tory inhumanity"
"Played by Sophie Melville with a power that leaves you quaking, Effie is as tough, beautiful and brilliant as a cut diamond: a vengeful demigoddess in grey joggers, blazing like a Fury, defiant, enraged, wounded and magnificent."
"Owen’s writing is so ferociously absorbing, and Melville’s performance so electric, that you can barely breathe as you watch. And O’Riordan’s direction shows us no mercy, hurtling between savage laughter and howling, gnashing wrath and anguish."
"There’s a cathartic potency to the play that leaves you wrung out and exhilarated. Rarely is theatre so shattering; rarely does it feel so utterly indispensable."
"Gary Owen’s furious monodrama, written in 2015 as a response to the austerity policies of the Cameron government, has lost none of its rage in the seven years since its premiere"
"From the opening lines of Rachel O’Riordan’s wonderfully assured production, Melville is in absolute command of the auditorium and we listen with enrapt, horrified, admiring concentration"
"With the possibility of a narrative of redemption dangled tantalisingly before us if not Effie herself, Melville powers on, angry, defiant and passionate, bringing wicked humour to Effie’s caustic snapshots of daily life in a desolate social landscape where causing aggro is one of the few outlets for expression."
"Sophie Melville stuns all over again as Gary Owen’s volcanically powerful monologue returns"
"Owen’s exquisite writing makes the scenes heartbreakingly vivid: you can feel the chills of the snowfall and smell the stench of alcohol on Effie’s breath. But the plot always gallops on, unfolding with a dramatic (and at times, manic) pace, heightened by the intense sound production and bursts of extra-bright lighting. It’s truly mesmerising."
"This play is a vital watch: scenes will flood into your head days after, perhaps when you’re watching the news. You’ll feel unnerved. You’ll feel angry. That’s what’s so great about it."
"This revival arrives amid a political storm about possible cuts in public spending by Liz Truss’s government. That the play has only gained in resonance is shocking, and Melville’s outstanding performance blazes with ferocious despair."
"On a set of neon lights and broken blinds, Rachel O’Riordan’s staging pulses with rage and sorrow while Melville prowls the space like a caged cheetah"