Review: Elf Lyons – ChiffChaff

A classic Fringe concept, but the songs wear thin

★★★
comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 19 Aug 2018
31721 large
Elf Lyons

Fathers crop up fairly regularly in Fringe shows. Frequently dead, or absent, or worse, they rarely inspire a happy hour. So this is one of the more positive examples, although its star may not be entirely convinced.

“I didn’t want to do this show,” mock-sighs the gloriously gifted Elf Lyons, a fair way into ChiffChaff (judiciously sticking with bird titles, after Swan’s success last year). Her father is the influential economist Gerard Lyons, so Elf has decided to take on his subject, her way, which does sound like classic Fringe: a qualified clown doing a musical about global finance.

And a lot of it works, right from the intro where she directly references her father's lectures by giving an academic-style abstract, and telling us exactly what will happen in the hour ahead. Which is useful, as it helps to know about the big ending, when we're stuck in a dull bit.

Elf in clown mode is always a treat: here she promises to explain a complex economic theory of the audience’s choosing via the power of mime. Unfortunately we could do with more mime, less music, as the main thrust is a series of famous songs reworked with financey lyrics. Which is funny at first, but wears thin several songs in.

Dad pipes up regularly via taped interviews, and lying beneath is an interesting subtext about Lyons’ own finances, and those of artists generally. “Who pays tax?” she surveys the audience at one point, then dreams airily of eventually earning enough to pay tax herself. It's good to have a dream.