By: Elf Lyons
Reviewer: Simon Topping
Elf Lyons takes to the stage like a terrifying party clown, ready to wow an audience with her fabulous visceral one hour journey into horror, Elf’s childhood and annoying people she has encountered on trains. It is a clowning masterclass and a joy to behold.
Presented as a series of ghoulish stories taken from the performer’s life, Lyons draws inspiration for her show Raven from the American Godfather of supernatural horror, Stephen King; she has read 55 of his 65 published novels.
The first couple of stories relate to Lyons’ childhood, upbringing and schooling, where she tells us of the monsters that haunted her from an early age and introduces the audience to her eccentric mother, an ethereal presence who kept her children off school to keep her company and her eccentric gun wielding grandfather who allowed a nine year old Elf to watch a traumatising horror film.
Lyons’ displays her deft skill and physicality throughout the piece. Switching characters effortlessly the mood turns from calm to disturbing in the blink of an eye, always powerful and funny; mesmerising to watch.
As the piece continues we see a slightly older Elf at boarding school; an eerie place with thin veneer of respectability and depths of foreboding. She wonderfully acts out a midnight trip to the toilet from a dorm as the automatic lights fail. It keeps the crowd on the edge of their seats. Will she make it or, far from the protections of home, will she succumb to the beasts lurking in the night.
More modern day terrors appear as the protagonist encounters misogyny and ignorance on a long train journey. Here her daydream scenes are particularly funny and shocking.
Raven culminates in a remarkably funny, outlandishly delightful and powerfully portrayed scene, which is both hilarious and shocking, as she unleashes a righteous rage akin to that of Stephen King’s character Carrie, in the book of the same name.
This darkly funny piece is a great accompaniment to the Halloween season, a perfect blend of comedy and horror. As Lyons says herself, “If you don’t like the comedy you’ll love the horror and if you don’t like the horror you’ll love the comedy”.
This is a thrilling piece of comedy, expertly presented.
Reviewed on 7th October and on UK Tour