17 Reasons Why Elf Lyons Is The Coolest Of The Cool

A review can’t be a listicle, I hear you say? It absolutely can. First of all, if Buzzfeed can do it, I can do it backwards and in heels. (okay, sideways and in trainers). Secondly, this is Edinburgh; listicle is as good as it gets. So many shows, so little time — and yet I saw Elf Lyons twice.

This is Elf Lyons

I know the Fringe is almost over, so you’ll have to find another way to see Elf Lyons. Do it. It’ll be worth it. Without any further etc. I give you, in no particular order…


  1. She talks about her overbearing mother with love but also candour, which is harder than it sounds and it sounds pretty damn difficult already.
  2. She talks about sex and being aroused without playing it up for being (conventionally) sexy, which should be obvious but really, really isn’t.
  3. She mentions wanting to have a penis and reduces men to tears of laughter (I won’t ruin the joke, but I’ll never look at groceries the same way….!)
  4. She does impressions, mime AND accents, dropping carelessly “I’m not good, but enthusiastic!”. Way not to be a perfectionist! Also, to my limited understanding of accents (foreign here!) she’s really good anyway. Stage presence and stage craft all accounted for (note to self: there is something to clown school).
  5. She extracts humour out of rather grim situations and gives weight to detail that feels extremely lifelike. I almost feel like I was in that bathtub…. (/spoiler).
  6. When she plays at being sexy, it’s an impression of someone else, and it is so funny because it’s so outdated. #newfeminism #malegazejustgotOld
  7. She played two shows (that I know of and have seen) with fever and worsening chest infection and her response to the situation was to make up a joke about her funny cough.
  8. Her idea of elegance is a dressage horse (wait for it….).
  9. She says “I wish my mother were dead” and proceeds to explain why.
  10. Because courage and grace.
  11. Her French lover is the funniest recurring character in a one person show. Ever.
  12. Because Pelican is a funny exploration of a very difficult mother-daughter relationship without blowing the feminist “LOOK! MOTHER AND DAUGHTER PLAY” trumpet or without the relationship itself being sugar, spice and roses. (I mean, back when we relied on Disney for female representation, all mentor female figures mysteriously died, so an alive mother in art is a step up, but having human women in art means women with complexity, ridiculousness and Doing Wrong Things). So there.
  13. Her metaphors (“Skittles tube with no fun”!)
  14. The voice of her mother. “You are Boadicea. Ride that audience like a horse!”. I’ll stop quoting now.
  15. I was going to have 17, but the quota of quotage was too high and the language got increasingly flowery, so I’m gonna stop now.
  16. Don’t forget to see the show.
  17. Seriously.