Back from brink of paralysis as Elf Lyons offers Brighton show

Elf Lyons
Elf Lyons

In August 2018, Elf Lyons was planning a physical clown show with dance, tap, rock n’ roll and the splits.

However, a couple of months later, disaster struck: Elf was taken to the hospital and told it was best that she never performed again.

After months spent lying on her back and being wheeled in and out of MRI machines, Elf had to rethink how to get back to the stage. Inspiration struck, and Love Songs to Guinea Pigs was born.

She brings the show to Brighton’s Komedia Studio on October 9 and to Guildford’s G Live Studio on October 26.

Join Elf as she presents a surreal tale of love and loneliness, embodying her inner Katherine Hepburn, promising an “absurd narrative of heartbreak and love with live music, terrible mime, silly characters, enthusiastic accents and entirely true stories.” As she says, this is Brief Encounter, but with rodents.

“It is so exciting. We travel all the time as comics. We are nomads. I spend so much time on the road. I am used to being away from home. But this is definitely exciting.”

As well as being personal.

The problem was a number of discs prolapsing, but Elf continued to work. As she says, she has quite a high pain threshold: “It was not until I lost bladder control and all feeling in my legs that I thought I needed to get to hospital.” Fortunately, the operation was a great success – not that it was something Elf really wanted to know too much about: “They kept saying they were sure I had looked into it, but I hadn’t. I thought it served no purpose for me to understand what was happening because I wasn’t the one doing the operating! All I had to do was trust in the doctors. There was nothing that I could really do about it.”

There was even talk about the possibility of not being able to work again, but in the event she was told to take six months rest. She went back to gigging after about four weeks: “I am a workaholic, and that’s partly what the show has ended up being about, the idea of what is the point of falling in love with something if you don’t love your own body.”

Elf has been changed by her experiences: “I am a clown. I am professionally trained as a slapstick performer. My body is everything to me. I don’t mean that in an aesthetic sense. It means that I am looking at every little way in which I can make my body comedic. I am obsessed with the great slapstick artists of our time..

“The doctors said it was very, very good that I came in when I did. If I had left it much later, I could have become paralysed effectively.”

All considerations that come into the show: “But I must say that the show is incredibly positive. It is still me being a clown, telling stories, doing lots of silly impressions. But I am different now. The show is about love and relationships, what it means to love something, whether it is your own body or a creature or loving what you do. I am a lot slower now. I became an agoraphobe after the operation. I was so worried about people bumping into me. I was so sensitive. But I think I am getting my trust back now.”

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