Iphigenia In Splott – Smock Alley – Review
Reality: Check. Productions
3 – 15 Dec | 8pm | Boys’ School
Effie (Iphigenia) is a young woman from Cork and she knows exactly what the local inhabitants think of her. She even calls herself a slag and a skank! She knows how to enjoy herself. She is a heavy drinker and has had a multitude of men in her life. One night when she is out on the town, she spots Lee on the other side of a nightclub and decides she must have him. This sets in motion a tale of unrequited love and unforeseen consequences!
This is a new play by Welsh playwright Gary Owen that was staged in the National Theatre, London in 2016. It is a monologue for one woman. This new production is by Reality:Check productions, who recently won the Best Ensemble at the Irish Times Theatre Awards for their production of Disco Pigs & Sucking Dublin. The Splott in the title of this play is a wonderfully named district in the south of Cardiff. This was the original setting for the play, but this production has moved it to Cork. The transition works relatively well, but there are a few cultural references that don’t quite fit. The benefit is that Rachel O’Connell is very comfortable with the accent and makes the character her own.
For those wondering on the Greek connection, Iphigenia was Agamemnon’s daughter. Her father killed a sacred deer (yes, that one) and offended the god Artemis, who then stopped Agamemnon’s troops from going to the Trojan war by stopping the wind for their sail boats. A sacrifice was demanded by Artemis and it was Iphigenia who paid the price! The play draws a comparison between that sacrifice and those that are made to suffer in our modern society.
The stage is filled with scaffolding pipes at odd angles and a variety of sloped platforms. It is an interesting set that allows the actor to move easily between locations and levels during the performance. The play starts at a great pace and paints a picture of a young woman who acts with bravado and a certain ferocity. She changes over the course of the play, showing a more delicate side later in the production. The play definitely feels stronger in the earlier sections and captures something quite vital and exciting. Rachel O’Connor imbues Iphigenia with a wildness and sense of abandon that is impressive and her performance is enjoyable throughout.
WRITTEN BY: Gary Owen
DIRECTED BY: Tracy Ryan
LIGHTING DESIGN BY: John Gunning
SET DESIGN BY: Fenna Von Hirschheydt
SOUND DESIGN BY: Jennifer O’Malley
EFFIE — Rachel O’Connell