FAQs for Iphigenia in Splott

FAQs for Iphigenia in Splott by Gary Owen

Why this post?

Well, we’ve realised that the cryptic title of this funny, tense, powerful play confuses a lot of people, with one person telling us that he didn’t understand the words on their own let alone put together in a sentence. And it’s tricky to know what it’s about if you’ve never seen it. And you might think twice about coming to see it if you don’t understand the title, which would be a shame, because it is such a brilliant piece of work. A never-ending story of confusion, which we would like to put an end to!

So, we’ve created these FAQs and if you have any other questions for us, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

What does the title mean?

Iphigenia in Splott (pronounced i·fuh·juh·nai·uh) is about a young, unemployed woman called Effie, played by the phenomal actress Naomi O’Taylor, who lives in Splott.

What is it about?

Effie’s life is an endless spiral of drama,drinks and drugs! And without giving too much away, it is about Effie directly telling us, the audience, about a major, life-changing incident that has happened in her life after a chance meeting.

Where is Splott?

Splott is a community and district in the Welsh capital city of Cardiff. Born out of the industrial revolution its name is derived from old English ‘speck or blot’ of land, however, some people humourously say that it comes from a truncation of ‘God’s plot’!

Is this a play about Greek mythology?

It is loosely based on Iphigenia in Tauris, but the play is not Greek mythology per se. However, the theme of sacrifice is.

What was Effie’s sacrifice?

Well, that would be giving too much away. But it is a sacrifice that affects us all, let’s just put it like that. The underlying theme of the play is ‘Why is it that people like Effie have to pay the price for society’s shortcomings?’

What can we learn from Effie?

A whole lot actually. For instance, not to judge a book by its cover. Not to underestimate the power of the human spirit. And that every person you meet is fighting his or her own personal battle. She also has one or two ideas about hangovers.

Where has it been performed before?

The original production was first performed in Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre (‘the engine room of Welsh theatre’), where it had two sell-out runs before having a successful run at The Edinburgh Festival. It then transferred to the Royal National Theatre in London.

Any notable awards?

Yes,amongst many others, the play won the UK’s Best New Play at the UK Theatre Awards in 2015, where it was nominated alongside Florian Zeller’s play ‘The Father’.

Where have I seen Naomi before?

Naomi is a prolific stage actress, who through a series of short films and TV commercials is becoming more and more well-known. And so she should be. Audiences were blown away by her performance as Effie. By the way, you might have seen her in the empowering and uplifting eBay TV commercial ‘Astronaut’, which has had 12.5 million views on YouTube alone.

What is Couch Theatre and how did you find this play?

Couch Theatre was set up in 2018 by the actor Jason Couch (see About Jason Couch on this website). When there isn’t a global pandemic, we perform English-language plays and readings in and around Hamburg. In 2022 we would like to start performing German-language plays and readings with the German-speaking members of our ensemble. We might have to change our name to Kautsch Theater. Watch this space!!

During a day out in Birmingham in 2016, there was a large poster of a woman’s head with, as we mentioned before, the cryptic title ‘Iphigenia in Splott’ hanging over the entrance to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. And if you don’t go in, you don’t find out. It was actually the original production on tour. And it was there that the idea for Couch Theatre was born and that ‘Iphigenia in Splott’ would be part of our repertoire.

What and where is Sprechwerk Theatre?

Officially known as Förderverein Hamburger Sprechwerk e.V., but we’ve taken the liberty of anglicizing it for our English-language plays that we perform there. Founded in 2004 , it is one of Hamburg’s biggest and best performance art i.e.’Off’ theatres. It is situated in the very central Hamburg district of Borgfelde, which is within walking distance of the Alster and from the nearest train station ‘Berliner Tor’, so very easy to get to.

What did audiences say about the Couch Theatre production?

We had amazing verbal feedback from our audiences e.g. “Why have I never heard about this play or actress before?”, “More people should definitely see this!” and also emails like this one:

“What a magnificent performance! Hats off to the actress. You did it brilliantly. I’m looking forward to more great productions from Couch Theatre” Gabriele R.M

Anything else to know?

It has adult themes and descriptions of sexual acts and it is very sweary. That’s who Effie is, and that’s why we love her!

So, if after reading all that you’d like to see our production, then see you at Sprechwerk Theatre on 1st and 2nd April 2022 at 8pm. All the best! JC

Retrospective Basil Dearden

Metropolis Kino

(Feb, March, April 2022)

When you mention British director Basil Dearden to a group of cinephiles, every so often you get euphoric feedback about his early war dramas such as FRIEDA (1947) and THE CAPTIVE HEART (1946) or the outstanding British film noir POOL OF LONDON (1951). But usually, German film aficionados shrug their shoulders: most of the more than 50 movies Basil Dearden directed or produced are actually unknown or have been long forgotten in Germany.

Dearden, born in 1911, first gained experience in artistic narratives at the theater, before switching to film when he was hired by Basil Dean of Associated Talking Pictures. When Dean returned to the world of theater in the late 1930s, successful producer Michael Balcon took over the company and made it world-famous under the name of “Ealing Studios”. As of the 1940s, Basil Dearden formed an incredibly productive artistic team with Michael Relph, who was henceforth always by his side, first as an art director and later as the producer of his films. When Ealing Studios folded in 1957, Dearden and Relph continued working together as an independent team and released audience favorites such as the gangster movie THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN (1960) and the comedy THE SMALLEST SHOW ON EARTH (1957) as well as a series of pioneering social dramas that dealt with juvenile delinquency (VIOLENT PLAYGROUND, 1958), racism (SAPPHIRE, 1959), the criminal persecution of homosexuals (VICTIM, 1961 – the first-ever British film about this subject) and religious fundamentalism (LIFE FOR RUTH, 1962). In the 1960s, Dearden also worked on Hollywood productions for United Artists, such as the epic KHARTOUM (1966). His last film was released in 1970, the psychological thriller THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF with Roger Moore in the leading role, three years before Moore played James Bond for the first time.

In all of his movies, no matter what genre – mystery drama, propaganda comedy, film noir or social drama – Dearden’s immense dedication to the characters in his films always resonates. Without any finger-wagging or lecturing he allows the audience to comprehend for themselves the reasons for human (mis)behavior. Time and again, he dedicates his attention to people who are repressed, people who have been ostracized, and reflects on the social justice and societal problems. Each of his films show British life in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. But perhaps it is precisely now, at a time when Brexit has thrown Britain’s political leadership into the limelight (again), that drawing comparisons of how life in the United Kingdom took shape more than 70 years ago becomes ever more fascinating.

As part of the Retrospective, we will be showing 34 films in total, 33 of which he (co-)directed, and THIS MAN IS NEWS (1938), the first movie that he co-wrote. An accompanying catalog comprises 34 new reviews of the films presented, written by authors who in some cases had never come across any of Dearden’s films before but are now delighted to be able to continue discovering his oeuvre beyond their work for this publication. The entertaining reviews serve to provide you with interesting facts about the people involved in the respective productions, background information on the movies’ creation, as well as references to other contemporary film productions. Half of Basil Dearden’s films exist in the form of 35mm copies, a third have been digitally restored and all are available in their original language. Unfortunately, our dream of providing a complete retrospective remains unfulfilled due to the lack of availability of some of the material. We very much hope that this first big presentation of Basil Dearden’s extensive work – both on screen and in this publication – will finally give Basil Dearden the long-overdue recognition he deserves in the German-speaking world and thus create a new cinephile public.

All films until march you will find here:


Metropolis Kino, Kleine Theaterstr. 10
Tickets also online: www.metropoliskino.de

Photos copyright: © Park Circus/ITV Studios and © Studiocanal

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