Taking a seat for Lily Bevan’s hour long show, my major fear was that being the only actor in a series of sketches, she might have a set of characters which felt indistinct and repetitive, or else the performance might lack dynamism. These worries were quickly dispelled however, as Bevan revealed a catalogue of unique characters, each as lacking in self-awareness as the last.
The show grounds itself in the conceit of a falconer losing her falcon, and consequently deciding to go and find herself. If this sounds contrived, it has nothing on the odd collection of characters that Bevan uses it to pull together. Her repertoire of characters includes, among others, a Yoga instructor, a lecturer on commitment who has married herself, and David Suchet, all of whom feel distinct from what they follow and allow the performance to feel fresh throughout. The only character who is not consistently funny is the falconer herself, but she exists as more of a framing device for the rest of the performance than anything else.
Bevan has an impressive grasp of the foils of her show, and she knows how to harness the changes in pace to create an additional layer of comedy. Immediately after the falconer breaks into a slow paced (compared to the rest of the performance, at least) monologue about needing to visit someone spiritual, ‘someone with gravitas’, the lights cut to black for a second and then flash pink. Bevan now wears a pink feathery scarf and throws balloons with drawn-on penises into the audience: she is a hen night psychic and the audience are the party.
Here, as she does frequently throughout her show, Bevan uses her audience particularly effectively. As she continues her masquerade as a psychic, members of the audience have their palms read and their fortunes told, with Bevan dealing out a brilliant set of subtle and delayed insults as she goes. At another point Bevan plays the role of a vapid Yoga instructor and approaches a man in the front row, taking his hands she looks him in the eyes: “These are your hands”. This kind of audience interaction helps counter the fact that Bevan is alone on stage as the audience becomes the hen night attendees, or the Yoga instructor’s class, or the passengers of a train; Bevan’s character drunkenly talking into the Tannoy. She enters into a dialogue with her audience, albeit a very one sided dialogue.
Lily Bevan: Pheasant Plucker is undeniably odd in both conception and performance, but that in no way prevents it from being consistently entertaining and remarkably effective at delivering laughs.