Elf Lyons: ChiffChaff

Elf Lyons should be feeling pretty good right now. Although she does have to top a nomination for Best Show at last year's Fringe Festival, she is still in one of the major venues at the Fringe during peak time whilst performing to fair-sized audiences. However something is bothering Elf Lyons and it is those doubts that make up the backbone of her new show Chiffchaff.

The show only really succeeds in the rare moments where Lyons shelves her layered absurdities for something more truthful

Chiffchaff is a show that focuses on and attempts to explain the economy. Filtered through a clowning mindset this becomes an explanation of the prisoner's dilemma using blow-up dolls and a lion giving birth to planet earth, amongst other oddities. Even those with a penchant for clowning could be forgiven for finding this level of abstraction a little tiresome at moments so it is unsurprising that the crowd don't entirely buy into a few of these routines.

The show has solid routines that pack a great degree of laughs in a short time and all of the costume change reveals gain a worthwhile response, but the show only really succeeds in the rare moments where Lyons shelves her layered absurdities for something more truthful. Referencing her father and her own personal demons is infintely more interesting in this case than the physical and absurdist elements of the show because the surreal portions aren't as groundbreaking as they have to be in order to succeed.

Elf Lyons is a charming performer with evident skills as a physical comedian but these have been showcased better in previous years. It is unfortunate that in one of the show's rare moments of frankness Lyons expresses a wish that she wasn't doing the Fringe this year as she is here with one of her weaker shows. Chiffchaff is an intermittently funny hour that is impressive in its deep dives into economic history and occasional personal moments, but as a whole it is an hour that alienates casual audiences and provides nothing new for clowning fans.

Reviews by Charlie Ralph

Pleasance Courtyard

Ciarán Dowd: Don Rodolfo

Pleasance Courtyard

Sarah Keyworth: Dark Horse


The Basement Tapes

Assembly George Square Studios

Kate Berlant: Communikate

Assembly Hall

Legacy: A Mother's Song




The Blurb

The Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee (Best Show 2017) presents her one-woman musical about the economy. You read that right. Let’s get fiscal. The queen of clown is back and she’s making the dismal science fun with a whole orchestra and an Invisible Hand. BBC New Talent Hotlist 2017. Fringe World Best Comedy Show 2018 nominee. British Vogue's '20 Names of Now'. 'A fast talking, smart-thinking stand-up for whom the adjective 'kooky' could have been invented for' (Guardian). 'Hysterical tour de force' ***** (ThreeWeeks). 'A fantastic comedic success' **** (Fest). **** (Scotsman).