Theatre

Iphigenia in Splott

There is no doubt Gary Owen’s adaptation of Ighigenia will be hard-hitting no matter what day of the week you get to see it. But watching it the evening after *that* morning it seemed so much more relevant, so much more like a call to action, an appreciation of community and the stark realities than ever. I wonder how I would feel watching if there had been a different government coming into power, would that sense of optimism make the reality of Owen’s themes a little easier a pill to swallow? Maybe just maybe the one thing to come out of Friday’s election result will be more people wanting to take decisive action, and maybe they will be fortunate enough to be near enough to the Sherman to see Iphigenia in Splott and maybe just maybe the community which we each have around us can rebuild and stand strong in response.

I’d love to say ‘rant over’, but surely this is what great theatre is about? Good theatre is meant to move you, and if it is really good it challenges you, and maybe just maybe when it’s exceptional it’s a rare challenge (to someone as bloody minded as me) which makes you change, to see the world around you differently, or to appreciate a wider perspective. 

And because of the parallel to the Greek myth, Iphigenia in Splott emphasises (or reinforces) the need to appreciate other’s sacrifices, to not stand in judgement, that sometimes some people make their sacrifice so the lives of other can be improved.

The difference between the Greek myth and Owen’s at is reality. The adaptation is in your face, it is everything you know, people you have seen, characteristics you recognise, it is all too close to home. Your imagination about Troy and Greek Goddesses are not needed in the Studio, instead you are faced by the strength of Effie.

Iphigenia in Splott

Credit: ShermanCymru

Effie is played by Sophie Melville, and oh, how she draws you in, taking a script and absolutely owning it, as no doubt anyone committing to the role of Effie would have to. But more than ‘making it her own’ Sophie Melville made Effie everyone else’s. Effie was recognisable, engaging, hard and cold, personable and caring. Being able to carry a script, single-handedly, for well over 60 minutes must be a talent in itself, to carry an audience with you, to have them on the edge of tears, and then to take a breath, and to have us laughing, about a situation at least 99% of the audience have no doubt been in, is not only a clever script, but must take so much emotional ownership, because whilst Effie may have made me laugh I still needed to wipe the residual tear in my eye away.

I should take a breath, before I admit to my complete emotion breakdown, and say,  The Design. You walk in and you see simplicity. But it is so clever, you realise the sound and lighting is colliding with your mood, it is clever because the simplicity allows it to morph, to be. The simplicity of the set allows Effie to be in so many places, creating so much imagery to allow unfolding events to keep the pace, not pausing for complexity but running with Effie’s realities.

And so to it, to being tipped over the edge, it is difficult to know how much personal experience and empathy will affect you, but I would think it is enough to take anyone to the edge. To understand how complex life is, the decisions we make, the optimism we have in each other, the need to protect, to love, and to survive. But more so, to me, Iphigenia in Splott is to understand what it takes to make a difference, to know right from wrong maybe, but to make life better. I had stumbled and fallen long before it got to that point, what Effie takes you through was enough, to appreciate that what you see of a person is always the tip of an iceberg, but this went further, this took you to line- “this is where you are, this is what society’s acceptable behaviour looks like, and these are the unintended outcomes- what choice  should you make?”

“I took this pain,

And saved every one of you, from suffering the same.

Your baby gets sick, she gets well

Because of me. Your mum gets ill

She gets healed, because of me and still…”

This week, as every week since before Christmas we have reaped the benefits of the NHS:  the professionalism, in spite of their pressures and stresses. We move on after this week but the next family, and the next, and the next, should be comforted from that same service. The service which should be protected.

This can’t turn into a rant, about the closure of library services, about cuts to the budgets which create and realise the potential of my children- education creates an equality for our children. Allowing individuals to understand what their potential looks like is an awesome gift the Arts is able to make.

What make this more real, and daunting, is that whilst you sit watching, loving Effie’s Cardiff accent, for me the familiarity of the area of Cardiff my dad’s family are from, there is a stark reality. This script translates. To every city in England I’ve lived either in or near. You can put a pin in a map and, with a different accent and landmarks, Effie will be.

So you hold on to hope.

When you’ve left a theatre space, feeling like you’ve just met someone, who’s been stronger than you, because she’s had to be, you can’t help but think. You’ve got to get there before cuts or circumstance make you- because we are still in control of our choice.

I hope it goes without saying, but yes, this is definitely a production to be seen.

‘Iphigenia in Splott’ is at Sherman Cymru until Thursday 21st May 2015 (the run has been extended from 16th May so it is worth getting in fast!). 

Effie: Sophie Melville

Author: Gary Owen

Director: Rachel O’Riordan

Designer: Hayley Grindle

Lighting Designer: Rachel Mortimer

Sound Designer: Sam Jones

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34 Comments

  • Reply
    Rachel
    May 10, 2015 at 16:19

    Given that I am absolutely delighted with the new government and am excited to see what will happen, I think my experience of this would be totally different to yours x
    Rachel recently posted…Drift Away – Temple SpaMy Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:54

      That’s definitely the best thing about theatre, and about the new government- for me the piece challenged how we do it together for everyone’s happiness, and I think that’s what theatre creates- such wide ranging interpretation- the absolute joy of the emotions reading, writing and performing evokes. x

  • Reply
    Ness
    May 10, 2015 at 18:46

    As someone who was brought up by my nan who had lived through two world wars in London I guess my take on modern life and hardship is probably slightly different to many other views. It’s always interesting to see a contemporary adaptation of a Greek classic.
    Ness recently posted…Sunday Snap – Lady GodivaMy Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:56

      And that really is the great thing which I think this piece of theatre created- the conversation. And for me that to move forward everyone’s perspective must be equal, so we can learn together. I love that theatre can take a classic and bring it to such a diverse audience- definitely food for thought.

  • Reply
    hannah
    May 10, 2015 at 18:53

    The storyline looks good and quite interesting and it’s local too, so a bonus x

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:56

      It’s always good to have theatre this good on your doorstep πŸ˜€ x

  • Reply
    Clare Mansell
    May 10, 2015 at 21:06

    Sounds like a rather weighty production. Glad you enjoyed it.
    Clare Mansell recently posted…Please nominate me for Photography in the Mad Awards…My Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:34

      It was one which stays with you- and it makes it feel like a worthwhile night out.

  • Reply
    Sarah Bailey
    May 10, 2015 at 22:14

    What a hard hitting production this sounds like. I’m glad you enjoyed it. x
    Sarah Bailey recently posted…Ox Pasture Hall: Luxury for all in ScarboroughMy Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:34

      It was, and it always feels good to be challenged. x

  • Reply
    Jaime Oliver
    May 11, 2015 at 01:17

    it sounds like a really emotive production, i love the theatre
    Jaime Oliver recently posted…Undivided Attention And A ConfessionMy Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:35

      It amazes me how much the theatre can evoke- definitely a love relationship.

  • Reply
    Globalmouse
    May 11, 2015 at 14:12

    This sounds like an amazing production – I love trips out to the theatre and wish I had more time to go and enjoy them.

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:37

      It’s definitely been a habit worth getting into for me. And it’s also a wonderful thing to have something to look forward to.

  • Reply
    Jen aka Muminthemadhouse
    May 11, 2015 at 14:20

    I have so got out of the habit of seeing eighty productions now I have kids!
    Jen aka Muminthemadhouse recently posted…15 Stunning suncatchers for kids to makeMy Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:37

      I did too… and just feel a lot better for getting out for a couple of hours of ‘me’.

  • Reply
    Cass@frugalfamily
    May 11, 2015 at 19:17

    I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this in a long time – probably not since the kids came along x
    Cass@frugalfamily recently posted…When a big company takes advantage of a young girl….My Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:40

      I think I’d go as far back as A-levels, but it’s definitely a habit I’m glad to have rediscovered. x

  • Reply
    Kara
    May 12, 2015 at 13:27

    I have not been to a theatre like this – I much prefer musicals!
    Kara recently posted…Fun at Avon Heath Country ParkMy Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:43

      I think that’s what makes theatre amazing- from my children, to me, to my mum and dad- there really is so much to keep everyone happy.

  • Reply
    Leanne Cornelius
    May 12, 2015 at 19:18

    This sounds very interesting. It is a worry about what may happen with this new government.

    Leanne – A Slice of My Life Wales
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    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:45

      It really was. And I think knowing that we can all come together to make things better is such a great message.

  • Reply
    clare nicholas
    May 12, 2015 at 19:26

    I’m sad to say I’ve not been to the theatre since the kids were born
    clare nicholas recently posted…Circus AdventuresMy Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:46

      It had been a while for me too, but I am so happy to have found the habit again (rather than those other more damaging ones I used to enjoy πŸ˜‰ ).

  • Reply
    Georgina
    May 12, 2015 at 19:42

    Gosh what an experience that sounds like! It’s been such a long time since I’ve been to the theatre, I really should go more often πŸ™‚

    Georgina

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:47

      We do have a fab city with so much diversity- it is great that our theatre echoes it.

  • Reply
    Ryan Costello
    May 14, 2015 at 14:15

    Looks like a hard hitting production. We don’t get to the theatre as often since become parents but love to go.
    Ryan Costello recently posted…Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 22, 2015 at 23:49

      It was wonderful to have my mindset challenge- and yes, it’s so difficult to juggle everything, but I know we wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Reply
    Laura
    May 15, 2015 at 06:13

    It sounds like a rather intense play, although I am not familiar with the story. My husband and I used to enjoy the odd trip or two to the theatre, but haven’t had the opportunity to do it since we had children.
    Laura recently posted…Easy bake New York cheesecake with granola crustMy Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 23, 2015 at 00:13

      I think theatre has so much to offer, and it was good to see something so intense- although I don’t think I could cope with it being a regular thing! But yes, being able to enjoy the odd trip out has been an enjoyable reconnection.

  • Reply
    oana79
    May 19, 2015 at 19:32

    Sounds like an amazing show, well worth seeing and you are right, art is all about getting one involved, transformed and changed for the better!xx
    oana79 recently posted…Forget Me NotMy Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 23, 2015 at 00:08

      It does feel wonderful to see how much the production has affected people- and even if we all make little changes/ improvements, we really will make the world a better place. x

  • Reply
    Nayna Kanabar
    May 21, 2015 at 23:19

    Sounds like an interesting production to go and see
    Nayna Kanabar recently posted…Strawberry LemonadeMy Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      May 23, 2015 at 00:07

      It was a such a good night out.

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