Edinburgh Fringe 2016 Review: Elf Lyons: Pelican

Elf Lyons emits a refreshing stage presence in Pelican. reviews

Image: Andy Hollingworth

Image: Andy Hollingworth


Standing outside the doors to The French Quarter, a small venue tucked away in The Voodoo Rooms, a tall woman swathed in a multi-coloured knit jumper asks me if I’m here to see a show. I reply, “Elf Lyons”. Smiling, she tells me that she herself is Lyons, envelopes me in a warm hug and says that she hopes I have a lovely night. What follows is an hour of comedy that is simultaneously poignant, funny and endearing, and everything that you could hope to expect from a woman who offers this calibre of greeting.

Inside the venue Lyons has now changed out of her jumper and into an elaborate horse costume which is only necessary for her opening gag, but which she remains dressed in for the entirety of the evening. Her show, entitled ‘Pelican’, is an exploration of her relationship with her mother, and pivots on a description of her as an ocean – simultaneously calm and stormy – which almost becomes a piece of performance art. It’s part stand-up, part dramatic re-enactment (brimming with dubious accents), part therapy session.

Lyons is a refreshing stage presence. There is a genuine connection between the audience and the performer on stage, and it’s clear that her personality is no façade. Lyons is honest, and not ashamed to admit to messing up jokes and noting where certain ones have fallen flat. At one point she almost falls off her seat, and smiles awkwardly at the audience – in all she seems like a thoroughly lovely person. Despite this laid back atmosphere, she has a way with words – particularly similes. An MRI scanner and her father are described as “like a skittles tube but with no fun” and “like an early version of the sims” respectively.

As a free show, ‘Pelican’ is definitely worth an hour of your time. It undoubtedly needs a bit of polishing, but for now its flaws only add to its charm.

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