ELF LYONS: SWAN
This show is billed as a one-woman performance of Swan Lake, right? So, onstage walks a woman in a parrot costume and starts shouting at us in Franglais, which est un peu unnerving. It doesn’t get any more ‘normal’ than that from then on. It gets less so. Much less so.
OK, there are some passing tenuous connections to the Tchaikovsky ballet, but actually this is a gloriously mad, original, and wildly funny piece of what? Clowning; stand-up; dance; performance art; acting skill; sexual politics; agit-prop – this show escapes genre pigeon-holing, but is undoubtedly a masterpiece. It is a great life experience to go to a theatre and see something mind-bendingly brilliant in a way not seen before, and this is one of those.
Lyons is incredibly versatile in her comic attack, and daring too, really extending the boundaries of what comedy can achieve.
The music is daft, the costume changes crazy, the audience interchanges surreal, but all of it is pulled off with supreme and unerring confidence, and leaves its audience dazed and gasping with laughter, wondering what exactly it is they’ve just seen. Genius. And no swans.
John Christopher Wood