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New York | 1h 20m | Already closed

Iphigenia in Splott

From 27 critic and 98 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Edgy, Riveting

About the show

Sherman Theatre presents a contemporary drama inspired by the Greek myth, which drives home the high price people pay for society's shortcomings. Part of 59E59's annual Brits Off Broadway festival. More…

Stumbling down Clifton Street drunk at 11:30am, Effie is the kind of girl you'd avoid eye contact with, silently passing judgement. We think we know her, but we don't know the half of it. Effie's life spirals through a mess of drink, drugs, and drama every night, and a hangover worse than death the next day—till one night gives her the chance to be something more. This one-woman play makes its New York debut following performances at the National Theatre in London.


“This superbly crafted one-woman show features excellent staging and an awe-inspiring performance…A deeply affecting view of humanity with all of its promise and pain…Sophie Melville is stunning as Effie. She captures the drama, passion and occasional humor of her challenging role. Effie is a dynamic character, one that is at first seems nasty and contentious, but later evokes sympathy...Melville masters all of these dimensions…A gripping, must-see play for metro area audiences.” Full Review

Front Row Center

“Sophie Melville is young, so it’s hard to say that she will never top this, but I don’t know how she could…She was by turns hysterically funny, horrifying and heartbreaking. I don’t remember breathing or moving from the time she opened her mouth to the time the play was over. Rachel O’Riordan set a driving pace…The writing too, was superb, crisp and crackling, and never going down the obvious paths…A stirring cry for revolution.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“Gary Owen’s ingeniously contemporary adaptation...The language of the play is deliciously raucous and the story flows through your veins like jolts of electricity…Melville’s portrayal of Effie is perfection…A lean production without a single unnecessary stroke…The play also taps into important social issues…Offers one of the most satisfying theatrical experiences around, with top-notch writing and an electrifying solo performer, and does so in a way that almost seems effortless.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Tour de force...Sophie Melville captivates in an eviscerating, powerful performance...Owen’s script turns on a dime and Melville runs this marathon, pacing the space like a panther, owning the audience from moment one. The acting and production are theater at its most forceful and engaging. Intelligent, moving, highly relevant at sparking conversation on the wide-range of issues Effie raises...An incisive, powerful production." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Gary Owen's sizzling monologue of a play...And what a tale it is, encompassing both tough-gal rants and an unexpectedly painful and tender account of raw vulnerability...Thanks to the playwright's perfect ear for the language of his protagonist, Sophie Melville's thrilling performance, and Rachel O'Riordan's direction, our hearts go out to Effie and stay with her through the highs and lows of the entire rest of the 80-minute play." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"Because the play is compressed into 80 jam-packed minutes (and this actress is electric), every minute takes on urgency. We have neither time nor space to ask why or whether. Tension is maintained, yet never static...The piece contains neither false word nor move...Sophie Melville is hypnotic...Director Rachel O’Riordan displays Effie’s volatility with as much variation as bite. What gets under the heroine’s skin, gets under ours." Full Review

Berkshire Fine Arts

"Every moment in this beautifully etched monologue is filled with pain. We ache as Sophie Melville’s voice screams words, wraps her soul around them and sometimes gives a tender caress...Owen’s powerful update of Euripides' story...Melville mesmerizes. Her raging rancor settles as the play progresses...Directed brilliantly by Rachel O’Riordan...An incredible evening of theater." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Owen's writing is potent, vivid, profane, and illuminated by verbal and physical variations that allow Melville to range from nasty to angry to aggressive to vulnerable to sweet to pathetic to cocky in a split second. The agile, quicksilver actress brings an emotional arsenal to Effie that fills every nook and cranny not only with fiercely human feeling but with piercing shafts of humor." Full Review


"A typhoon of a performance by Sophie Melville drives toward—and justifies—a final wrenching twist. Directed with just-shy-of-frantic energy by Rachel O’Riordan, Melville’s Effie is a raw slice of humanity...Effie is that rare and wonderful combination, a being of both grippingly real emotion and stylized characterization—a creature that can exist only in the theater...Go see this fiery production." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"It’s almost impossible to look away. As directed skillfully by Rachel O’Riordan, Melville doesn’t really give us any chance to catch our breath and re-center ourselves from the moment she starts in at us. With a heavy Welsh accent and an aggressive, angry demeanor, Melville leads us through the troubled, messed-up life of this young woman...It’s a dangerous and edgy performance that feels completely raw and powerful. And epic in a way." Full Review

The New York Times

"I first met Effie last year...I’d almost forgotten the disturbing, exciting pleasures of her company in this fast and furious production, directed to scorch by O’Riordan...'Splott' is a work with a confrontational social conscience, a state of mind that’s rarely conducive to subtlety. But though its conclusion has a didactic abruptness, Owen’s script otherwise operates on a seductively sensory level, in which we seem to absorb fully the nature of a woman and her world by osmosis." Full Review


"It exceeds our expectations with a surprisingly sensitive story by playwright Gary Owen and a winning performance from Sophie Melville...Effie's behavior becomes less shocking and more sympathetic as the play progresses. By the end, we even come to see her as noble in certain ways, an impressive feat for the kind of character most of us would cross the street to avoid...You may not walk away from 'Iphigenia in Splott' loving the protagonist, but it is hard not to respect her." Full Review


"Sophie Melville’s electrifying performance as a disaffected young woman surviving in a depressed Welsh town is the muscle of playwright Gary Owen’s intensely bleak solo play...Melville powerfully enlivens this tough 80 minutes. She is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, and heroically surmounts the challenging material...The writing is poetically descriptive and moderately engrossing...Director Rachel O’Riordan’s dynamic staging injects compelling visual flourishes." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

“The main reason to see it is the electric performance by Sophie Melville as Effie…I was disappointed that the play morphed from a fascinating character study to a screed against social welfare cuts, even though, as a cautionary tale, it is certainly timely on this side of the pond as well. My other reservation is the difficulty I had making out some of the words because of the thick Welsh accent and rapid speech.” Full Review

Reviews Off Broadway

"Sophie Melville is amazing as Effie in 'Iphigenia in Splott.' Her rage is transfixing and often humorous, albeit exhausting, as she berates anything or anyone that wanders into her attention. Effie tells the story of when her life changed, and she realized that more was possible in life. Her story revolves around a man she met at a bar that might or might be her soulmate and what happens to her after that meeting. It isn't a harrowing tale, but it is a rare and heartbreaking story." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"The playwright's attempt at making her into a transformational figure of suffering doesn't really fly...Without an actress of Melville's powers, Effie might be insufferable. There's no worry of that here; Melville, a petite blonde with a massive presence, holds our attention as if through sheer force of will...Even if 'Iphigenia in Splott' is more a collection of vivid passages than a fully realized play, Owen is clearly a gifted writer, and Melville shows definite signs of incipient stardom." Full Review

A Seat on the Aisle

"An extraordinary one-woman show...As a theatrical performance, Melville leaves nothing to be desired...A performance that truly deserves five stars...But as to the play itself, and the message it seeks to convey, that is an entirely different matter...Owen is championing a world in which a sense of entitlement justifies individual irresponsibility...If you still believe in individuals taking responsibility for their own lives, you’re still likely to appreciate Melville’s terrific performance." Full Review

Culture Whisper

for a previous production "Gary Owen's writing, so intricately intelligent, reels you in then blindsides first with human tragedy, then its political repercussions. You can't help but be devastated as each plot development lurches further from initial expectations. 'Breathtaking' is an overused adage, but during the heartbreaking climax, we didn't actually breathe. Standing ovations are rare, especially on press night, but Sophie Melville had every tear-stained person in the Temporary Theatre on their feet." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production "The most shattering, angry call for immediate revolt that you will see on stage this year...Melville’s performance is a perfect whirlwind of aggression, seduction, violence and pity, and Rachel O’Riordan’s superlative production never once lets it drop the pace...By any measure going, this is perfect theatre: intelligent, moving, and horribly, horribly relevant. Most of all, though, in those final moments, it feels like the start of a revolution." Full Review

The Stage (UK)

for a previous production "Gary Owen’s blisteringly good play...The writing is stingingly funny and sharp as jagged glass...Owen picks deftly through the wreckage of Effie’s world, like a compassionate, clear-sighted preserver. Sherman Cymru’s artistic director Rachel O’Riordan captures the play’s many tonal changes in her production, which is fluid and textured. It’s a masterclass on how to keep an audience focused in the right way...It’s a breathtaking, bruisingly good performance." Full Review

The London Evening Standard

for a previous production "This 70-minute piece, arrives in London garlanded with plaudits. It’s easy to see why. Rachel O’Riordan’s sharply focused production has a pacy directness, and Sophie Melville is sensational as Effie. Her performance is caustic, but also flecked with seductive and vulnerable moments — teasing, touching, profound. She savours the intelligence and political anger of Owen’s writing, which is painfully vivid and sometimes devastatingly funny." Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

for a previous production "This modern-day anti-heroine makes a sacrifice so unexpected, so touchingly altruistic, that it shakes you violently and then pummels your heart...Sophie Melville is remarkable as Effie...Through Owen’s multi-layered text we see someone aggressive and tender, courageous and frightened, funny and sad. Melville captures the character in all her many shades, knowing exactly when to hold back and when to exert emotional welly...An important play." Full Review

London Theatre

for a previous production "Owen has a tight grip on the pathos and is cunningly effective at tugging on your heartstrings at the precise moment...Melville's solo performance is nothing short of extraordinary...She manages to avoid the land mines of parody and pastiche that clutter the text, effectively humanizing the character and drawing you in...The subtlety of the polemic is what makes this one of the most powerful and stirring political plays of recent times...It's a powerful message that's been well earned." Full Review

Time Out London

for a previous production "While ‘Iphigenia in Splott’ will certainly jerk a few tears, the abiding emotion here is righteous anger...Much of the brilliance of Rachel O’Riordan’s kinetic production is that, for all its ferocity, it introduces its polemic with great subtlety...Recent years have proven oddly infertile for political theatre, but ‘Iphigenia in Splott’ is the sort of clear-eyed rallying cry that deserves to force a change." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production "A tremendous piece of storytelling...This is a one-woman marathon and a phenomenal performance by Sophie Melville, incisively directed by Rachel O’Riordan. And it ends with a call to revolution. My only criticism is that the final state-of-the-nation rounding off sounds more a polemic from Gary Owen than from F-off Effie. From her mouth, it does not quite ring true." Full Review

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Resonant

See it if you enjoy ambitious one person plays written with verve, imagination, compassion performed by a riveting actor

Don't see it if you do not find language-dense plays of interest

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Riveting

See it if You like sleek, creative design and staging and juggernaut acting that packs a powerful wallop.

Don't see it if You are offended by contemporary language and situations...things that are "rough." Or if you are only interested in happy stories.

Masterful, Great writing, Great staging, Tour de force, Great actress

See it if You like quality work in an intimate space.

Don't see it if You have trouble understanding and getting used to a strong dialect. In this case Welsh.

Also What a gem this show is. Sophie Melville is delivering the best work o... Read more Read less

Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Must see

See it if You want to see the best performance by an actress you're ever likely to see on stage. In an incredibly written, relevant, gritty play.

Don't see it if Bad language offends you, or you're looking for something light and fluffy. Or you don't like one person shows.

Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Must see, Relevant

See it if you enjoy retellings of classic tales, fearless females, unique perspectives, and thought-provoking theatre done extremely well.

Don't see it if you can't understand Welsh accents or if your masculinity is too fragile to handle a strong, messy woman's story.

Also Sophie Melville is a force to be reckoned with. I am not usually a fan... Read more Read less

Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Riveting, Great writing

See it if you want to watch a talented actor give a command performance. Don't let the solo aspect put you off. It's gripping from beginning to end.

Don't see it if you have trouble with strong accents or are sensitive to harsh topics.

Edgy, Great acting, Masterful, Relevant, Riveting

See it if Amazing solo performance. I was drawn into the character's intense experiences. How much of her suffering was fate vs. her own choice?

Don't see it if You are not interested in themes of class disadvantage and alcoholism in a caring but impulsive character.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Powerful, Tough

See it if an intense performance of an individual's recognition and trying to overcome their own obstructions interests you

Don't see it if a tough, harsh, aggressive dialogue makes you uncomfortable

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Masterful, Hilarious

See it if If you can get past a thick Welsh accent (I love it) you will see a tour-de-force one woman show that take a place beside PONDLING & CUDDLES

Don't see it if Thick Welsh accent, some profanity upsets you

Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Relevant

See it if An intimate theatre experience with grit, edge and a TREMENDOUS tour-de-force performance. It's a provoking 80 minutes I won't soon forget.

Don't see it if You have difficulty with accents, sexual themes, some screaming, and intense situations. This is not fluff. Bring your brain... and heart.

Intelligent, Intense, Must see, Riveting, Compelling

See it if I was mesmerized throughout the show, almost forgetting to breathe. The acting/writing/direction are exemplary. Don't miss this play.

Don't see it if you don't like one person shows; cursing and bullying offend you; confrontation makes you uncomfortable & life's a bitch topics depress you.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You are interested in knowing more about a woman's experiences as she alienates & challenges you. Powerful performance of personal horror.

Don't see it if You're not interested in knowing how unlikeable people manage to pursue their lives without any guarantees.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Riveting, Great writing

See it if If you want to be captivated for 80 minutes by amazing acting/writing/directing - and a disturbing but heartfelt story.

Don't see it if You are looking for a pleasant happy ending.

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You wanna see a master class in acting that perfectly captures the unseen burdens and sacrifices of the exploited class.

Don't see it if You're rich and afraid you're going to be eaten soon.

Epic, Great acting, Resonant, Riveting, Great writing

See it if you're ready for 80 minutes of full-force woman power. Sophie Melville was stunning.

Don't see it if you don't like one woman plays.

Great acting, Must see, Riveting

See it if you want to see a powerhouse performance by an outstanding young actress. Riveting story with amazing delivery

Don't see it if you don't like solo shows

Also This actress is brilliant in the way she is able to grab ahold of you ... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Mesmerizing, Fierce

See it if You are prepared for a very intense and moving monologue about class exclusions from medical tx, housing, work&dysfunctional relationships.

Don't see it if You want to miss a tour-de-force performance that is powefully delivered, quite physical, but includes some rough language and Welsh accent.

Also Some might consider IIS to be over the top. I thought it was brilliant... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Great acting

See it if you like 1 person shows with content, and thought provoking themes

Don't see it if you don't like British accents

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Profound, Great writing

See it if You love solo plays that explore the effects of economic cuts in working class.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with plays that take you in a destruction ride

Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if You like single-character shows about women, and aren't afraid to confront issues of alcoholism, sex, and raw emotions. You like new talent.

Don't see it if You don't like a work with a challenging British accent, you don't fancy plays dealing with alcoholism, the NHS, or women's issues.

Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You like energetic & surprisingly political pieces that get their message across subtlety while revealing their strong female character.

Don't see it if for some reason you don't like well-written, strong, one-person shows with a relevant, working-class plight. Timely and should be seen.

Absorbing, Great acting, Riveting

See it if an astounding performance, brings you from a character that you might find unappealing to being totally on her side, audience was rivetted

Don't see it if rough language of a working-class British young woman

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Standout solo performance! great writing!

See it if You would enjoy a play that is told in the first person narrative with a distinct cultural perspective.

Don't see it if You have trouble understanding British accents. The monologue is fast paced so you need to pay attention.

Also the actor does a terrific job of conveying the character's socio-econo... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Riveting

See it if You want to see a powerful one- woman show about an angry Welsh woman with addiction issues who gets pregnant and has a tough time

Don't see it if Raw language offends, or you would have trouble understanding a rural Welsh accent

Also Tour-de-force performance - in turns, painful, funny, and ultimately m... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Profound, Great writing

See it if A well played one woman show interests you.

Don't see it if You'll get bored listening to one person do a 75 min monologue.

Also The actress how so much power. Audiences are affected, hooked on every... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (8)