Elf Lyons: ChiffChaff (4 stars)

This article is from 2018

Elf Lyons: Chiffchaff

High calibre show of economics and showtunes which bristles at Brexit Britain

Who knew so many popular songs and showtunes were actually about finance? Elf Lyons – part comedian, part singer, part clown – promises a musical about the economy, and delivers much more. Combining characters, clowning and more personal material, she throws together skits, musical numbers and wise words from her dad that run the gamut from charming to bewildering. The songs are likewise eclectic, being drawn from multiple sources and keeping the energy levels high with accompanying dances which are joyously bizarre in their own right.

Lyons, in knowing command of her physical appearance and demeanour, creates a dizzy, lisping ingenue character who flutters her eyelashes and coquettes it up, channelling Marylin Monroe's character in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes who uses a ditzy facade to hide her perspicacity about the importance of financial independence (albeit obtained through marriage or gifts of jewellery).

This violently clashes with Lyons' more aggressive style at other times and, together, creates an off-kilter production that constantly threatens to veer off in any number of directions, despite her insistence on keeping to her dad's advice about how to execute an effective talk. Her father's thoughts on both economics and his daughter's personal finances surface throughout the show, grounding and adding some heart to this otherwise esoteric conglomeration.

Much more than a stand-up and a mic, Lyons works incredibly hard to bring to life a frenetic hour of barely contained chaos that mostly lands despite a few uneven spots (for example, the section on game theory needs some work). A million miles away from an obvious swipe at the Tory cabinet's hand in austerity Britain and post-Brexit broke-ness, Lyons creates an over-the-top spectacle of contemporary economics that somehow combines lucid explanations of fiscal policy, references to 18th-century economist Adam Smith and US punk band Dead Kennedys, and high-calibre physical comedy.

Pleasance Dome, until 27 Aug (not 13), 6.50pm, £8.50–£10.50 (£7.50–£9.50).

Elf Lyons: ChiffChaff

  • 4 stars

The Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee (Best Show 2017) presents her one-woman musical about the economy.