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REVIEW - Iphigenia in Splott

Posted by Nick Hennegan on Thursday, October 13, 2022

Lyric Hammersmith, London, W6.

Sophie as Effie!

🍷🍷🍷🍷 🥃 (4 glasses out of 5, PLUS a shot !)

It’s always a novelty going to see a play with a name you find hard to pronounce! But having done a bit of research (you’re welcome!) it turns out the story is based, as so many brilliant stories are, on an Ancient Greek myth. And Splott is in Wales.

So good, so classical. But there is a burning contemporary edge to this story. Set in Wales, the modern name for our heroine is Effie… a Slapper and Dirty Skank. Although, of course, she is neither of these.

To be honest, I always get a bit nervous, when ‘working-class’ characters are presented through the prism of largely middle-class theatre practitioners. And this does miss a few beats and isn’t perfect — we occasionally lose some of the dialogue — but generally writer Garry Owen has created a classic character that I identify with as working-class myself. I instantly recognised and sympathised with the frustration of few opportunities, lack of self-worth and over compensation for an emptiness many working class people feel.

Sophie Melville gives a great performance that mixes elements of a wild Irvine Welsh character and a still Alan Ayckbourn monologue. Indeed, having just returned from the home of one-person shows, the Edinburgh Fringe, (where this show appeared some time ago) it is full of paradoxes: a monologue constrained by singularity through its form, but a production which feels peopled by an entire Welsh town. And an epic tragedy captured by a white working-class woman with no hint of ‘Vicky Pollard’ despite her scraped-back hair, snarls, three day piss-ups, hangovers and street brawls. She is eminently ordinary but exceptional in her heroism, too. And director Rachel O’Riordanmust take credit for her pacing and variation of the piece — and of course, for commissioning Gary Owen’s lyrical script back in 2015.

It’s a modern classic in a beautiful theatre and feels even more relevant now than when it was first created in Austerity Britain. The play is brutally effective in depicting the human cost of the cuts and closures and ends on a note of accusatory fury. Yet its politics are surprisingly subtle.

The name may be a bit confusing, but this is a quality piece that makes perfect sense. Go see it.

Tags: lyric hammersmith  london  w6   
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About Us

Nick Hennegan Hello. I'm Nick Hennegan and I started the London Literary Pub Crawl. Most of the blogs on here will be by me. I've always written but my first theatrical success was an adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Henry V' ( I founded Maverick Theatre in 1994. ( This pub crawl is really more a promenade theatre performance than a tour and I'm running it with a bunch of enthusiastic local actors and writers. I love sharing my passion for the area and the artists. I also present a weekly radio show, 'Literary London' on Resonance 104.4fm - London's Arts Station and a podcast on our site. If you haven't visited us in London yet, I hope you'll come soon. Have a look at my new site, And feel free to leave comments or email me at nick @ - I reply to them all and I love to hear from you.


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