Iphigenia in Splott at Theatre@41

Last night I was totally enthralled by Livy Potter who appears in a 75 minute monologue by Gary Owen at theatre@41. She gave a bravura performance!

By Angie Millard

This is a beautifully written, detailed journey in a woman’s life. As we watch, the layers are gradually stripped away from a foul mouthed, drunken young woman who you might encounter on any street and exposes an individual whose pain and suffering are much intensified by life in Britain today. She is a victim of austerity and as she states at the beginning of the piece: ‘tonight you’re all here to give thanks to me… you’re in my debt, I’ve come to collect.’ 

In the title, the author uses the character of Iphenigia, who was sacrificed to ensure fair winds, to help the fleet set sail to Troy and rescue the captive Helen. But in this play there is no rescue, Effie offers a personal sacrifice to help beleaguered Britain. A drop in the ocean.

Described by the Guardian as feeling like the start of a revolution, the play is certainly a call to action. We should all try to change things instead of making someone like Effie a scapegoat. She speaks of one night stands, drugs and three day hangovers. Her life is a reflection of the effects of austerity, of cuts in services, of the changes that her Granny cannot comprehend but finally she comes through.

Livy Potter plays Effie with attack, energy and utter conviction as she unfolds her tale. She is confrontational and vulgar but the author Gary Owen challenges us not to judge her. Jim Paterson directs with skill and sensitivity. He guides us to evaluate and consider the issues by his use of transitions and abrupt changes to the through line, engineered by the events. I will not relate the facts of Ellie’s story which are rolled out with precision and keep us on tenterhooks until the end but I will say that 75 minutes never passed so quickly. By the end, we admire her strength and are surprised by her morality and humanity. I loved the character and tears were not far away.

This piece of monodrama uses the backdrop of life in Britain today to make a strong political point. I left the theatre thinking about the Effies around us and grieving for their lost chances. I thought about the older generation too but mostly I contemplated the loss of what we had when post-war plans were being implemented with Nationalisation.

Monologues are a straightforward way of presenting  a message and focusing the audience. In the play Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth, for example, issues of modern life are presented in a different way, but at the end Rooster finishes with a raging monologue as finally there is no other way to tell it.

Theatre@41 fosters a superb range of theatre and fills a space in a city which encourages the Arts. The auditorium is versatile and adapts freely to any type of performance and I always enjoy going there. Please don’t lose the chance to see this stirring play.

Iphigenia in Splott by Gary Owen is being performed at Theatre@41 Monkgate until 4 March 2023. It is directed by Jim and Effie is played by Livy Potter.