GREEK myth is smacked in the chops by modern reality in Gary Owen’s scabrous, “horribly relevant” one-woman drama Iphigenia In Splott.
Should you be wondering, Splott is in Cardiff, its unusual name meaning ‘parcel of land’. In your reviewer’s university days studying EngLit there (1980 to 1983), it was the runt of that city’s litter. Today, on a Google search for Splott, you will find the question: “Is Splott rough?”.
Google answers: “As of 2023, the crime rate in Splott is 52 per cent higher than Wales and 50 per cent higher than the England, Wales & Northern Ireland overall figure”.
And they don’t come harder than Effie, whose life “spirals through a mess of drink, drugs and drama every night, and a hangover worse than death the next day, until one incident gives her the chance to be something more”.
Owen’s splenetic 75-minute monologue is performed by Livy Potter, actress, chair of York Settlement Community Players and University of York staff member. She is not from Cardiff but director Jim Paterson is, and she has been able to perfect that distinctive accent in rehearsal sessions, an accent that has none of the undulations of the Welsh valleys.
This is a stark, dark play, played out on a single blue chair, with no props and only a mesh of twisted metal and broken palettes as a backdrop. Drama cannot come more intimate or intense than a solo show, and Potter keeps meeting you in the eye, telling you her bruised, devastating tale with shards of jagged humour and shattering blows to the heart.
Think of Ibsen’s women; think of Steven Berkoff’s dramas with their echoes of Greek tragedy; think of Christopher York’s play Build A Rocket.
Fantastic firebrand performance; superb, coruscating writing; excellent, raw direction. Visit Splott now.
Performances: Tonight (3/3/2023), 7.30pm; tomorrow, 2.30pm, 7.30pm. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.