Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/870/21410
Theatre review: 'An angry call for revolt'
Kate Jones, Socialist Party Wales, reviews Iphigenia in Splott, written and directed by Gary Owen, Sherman Cymru theatre, Cardiff.
Effie is a working class girl in an area of Cardiff hit hard by cuts. No work, no hope, shops boarded up, library and swimming pool closed, streets littered with dog shit. Is there nothing for her but getting drunk, having a laugh, getting laid? She challenges all these expectations of her, head on.
Effie is based on a character from ancient Greece, whose story was told in a drama by Euripides - Iphigenia in Aulis.
Faced with being sacrificed to appease the gods and save the honour of the Greeks, she accepts her destiny. She can take it.
The modern-day Iphigenia - Effie - can take it too, she can take everything life and austerity Britain can throw at her. In the course of 75 minutes of intense performance we discover just what she has to take to appease today's gods, the capitalist system.
She challenges the audience directly - what happens when she, and the working class, can't take any more?
The play gathered rave reviews, and a major award at the Edinburgh Festival for young Welsh actress Sophie Melville. The Guardian reviewer described it as "an angry call for revolt".
But cuts mean theatre companies find it increasingly hard to get funding to stage and tour experimental and challenging dramas like this. Venues are closing or can only put on sure-fire hits like tribute bands.
Sophie Melville completely owns the role of Effie, but how many other talented young performers never get the chance of a break in austerity Britain?
And without the funding to tour local community venues, how many working class young people will even get to see original live drama at all?
Iphigenia in Splott is showing in London shortly. Worth seeing.
In The Socialist 16 September 2015:
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