Elf Lyons made a welcome return to the stage with a high-octane, hilarious performance of her 2017 Edinburgh Fringe sell-out show Swan. It was the first time she’d been able to perform the comedic homage to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake since being told that a spinal injury would prevent her from ever walking again.
Elf surpasses herself during the finale
Elf successfully parodies Swan Lake with many contemporary juxtapositions. The plot line is reimagined, scene by scene. One hilarious part entailed two hand puppets engaging in a rap style lip sync reimagination of a battle for supremacy between the two male leads. A suitcase lip sync sketch also had the audience in stitches.
The show is peppered with well-observed one-liners and audience asides; listen out for the Germaine Greer reference! Elf’s expertise in clowning and physicality are entertainingly driven up the absurdity curve, as the four ballet positions are repurposed in the context of everyday household objects. The Nutribullet reference and subsequent callback in the finale were met with hoots of laughter from the audience.
It was a joy to behold Elf’s accent skip between French and an acknowledged intelligible Midlands/North-Western accent. She had fun recounting a childhood interaction with her mother, as she attempted to evade ballet classes. Be sure to catch the show yourself, to discover the premeditated deed undertaken, to ensure an instant dismissal from childhood ballet classes.
Excellent characterisation of key players in the Swan Lake story using props and contemporary pop music enlivened the audience. Crowd members were called upon to embellish the scene, using a hand puppet to represent another character and pulling a long string of items from under Elf’s t shirt.
The fourth wall was ripped down as Elf engaged the audience with repartee which contextualised her relationship/journey with the show, referencing personal anecdotes which added a poignant intimacy to the performance.
Comedic insights into the role and expectations of both male and female ballet dancers were sprinkled across the show, with entertaining references to which directions and gestures were possible for each dancer. The hilarious Ferrero Rocher ballet gesture reference and call back were met with applause and laughter.
Elf surpasses herself during the finale; expect the unexpected in this feminist reworking of the end of the Swan Lake you thought you knew. You’ll never look at the finale in the same way again!