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Audio Drama Review


Gorgon: A Horror Story


Writer: Elf Lyons
Starring: Elf Lyons, David Hoskin and Natalie Williams

Publisher: Elf Lyons


Release Date: 15 March 2021

Multi-award winning comedian and theatre maker Elf Lyons releases Gorgon: A Horror Story – an audio play originally conceived as a live immersive experience which sold out its first week-long run at the Vaults Festival, garnering some impressive press coverage. It has now been reimagined as a digital play using techniques inspired by the gruesome Le Theatre du Grand-Guignol Parisian horror shows of the early 20th Century. The audio focuses on female anger and taxidermy – a potentially explosive combination. Director/writer/performer Elf Lyons has appeared in Vogue and often on BBC radio. She has been nominated at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards for Best Show, the Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality, and Fringe World’s Best Comedy Show. In 2018 she was awarded Pick of the Fringe at the Adelaide Fringe, Australia. She is also a self-confessed horror nut...

My favourite genre is Horror, and I enjoy audio dramatisations for a reason I’ll come to, so I’ve been looking forward to immersing myself in this offering. It’s promoted as a play, but with no budget to speak of and no proper cast Gorgon immediately reveals its shortcomings. I would have preferred all of the scenes to be played-out in real time. Instead, with a cast of only three, the situations mostly take the form of interviews. So, we are presented with the accounts of a victim’s friend, a surviving victim and a forensic pathologist. These are sprinkled with sound effects for the grisly parts.

Being a Dark Comedy Horror, the content is going to be open to close critical scrutiny because the balance of these genres invariably misses the spot. Some of the humour is justifiably laugh-out-loud, such as: “You have the most incredible eyes. They’re sort of yellow… Like a highlighter pen.” and “At first is was assumed there were only two victims, until I pointed out it was impossible for only two victims to have five feet.” Unfortunately, most of the humour originates from the perpetrator during an overly-long backstory. This is perhaps not the most sympathetic manner of relaying the humour, as it emanates through descriptions of body horror – particularly multiple stabbings and body dismemberment, which many will consider in bad taste. A much better angle would have been to have the pathologist or potential victims react with dark humour through ultimate shock.

The premise itself borrows heavily from Psycho (written by Robert Bloch, the film of which was directed by Alfred Hitchcock). There is mention of a cruel and sadistic mother, and a fascination from a young age for taxidermy. Indeed, certain victims are even attached to become part of furniture such as a desk and a light fitting. This is an almost direct reference to the notorious real-life killer Ed Gein (upon which Psycho was based), who reportedly made furniture out of the skin and bones of his victims. More succinctly, the promotion describes the story as focussing on the still taboo subject of female anger, and particularly what happens when a normally mild-mannered taxidermist is pushed too far.

This is pretty low-key. I think I’ve been spoilt over a number of years with the always excellent Audio Movie output of Dirk Maggs, which incorporates casts of strong actors, original created special sound effects, and film score level music. Consequently, as a stage play turned audio production it’s eminently listenable; it has its faults but still serves its purpose.


Ty Power