Syd and Sylvia


Syd&Sylvia show trailer 2017/18 from Claudia Jefferies on Vimeo.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “…a visceral takedown of sexist social mores.” – Fringe Guru

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️” …a fascinating exploration of the feelings of anger, humiliation, and shame that can follow street harassment and assault.” – Three Weeks 

“…a formidable talent” – Reviews Hub


The year is 1987.  Infamous club owner and compere Syd and his long-suffering wife, club singer and entertainer Sylvia, have been performing the same old routines at their Eastbourne working men’s club for 15 years. However, after taking up an evening class in Women’s Studies, Sylvia has been taking liberties with some of the material, much to the disapproval of her abusive husband…


Syd and Sylvia was a one-woman show about control, expectation, and the crap that women face every day. It was developed and toured between 2015-18.


Stylistically, the show mimics working-class entertainment of the Bernard Manning ilk, then subverts it with sudden changes in form where the set-up is broken and the audience confronted with the reality of misogyny as a social problem.  Disturbing anecdotes and gender role-reversed audience interactions comment on the double standards faced by women and are delivered alongside cheesy keyboard playing, bastardised karaoke lyrics, and bad jokes.


Part drag cabaret, part-live art, Syd and Sylvia was an experiment in communication; in the difference that it makes when something is expressed in a ‘male’ voice as opposed to a female one. It plays with the idea that society treats male anger as ‘to-be-taken-seriously’ but treats female anger as a joke or as so-called hysteria.


“This show is a face-punch right in the patriarchy…brutal, honest, uncompromising and urgent… one of the best pieces I’ve seen this year. Everyone should have a chance to see it” – Jen Smethurst, SPILL National Platform Project Manager & General Manager, Sh!t Theatre


“…violent and harrowing and kind of raw. If we’re talking brush strokes, it isn’t light watercolours. It’s clay. It’s painting with a hammer.  And I really, really love that.”  – Alan Fielden, Artistic Director, National Art Service


Interview with PRSD


Syd and Sylvia (previously known as Syd) was first developed in late 2015 and was presented as work-in-progress at Bread and Roses Theatre, Clapham, Camden Fringe 2016 and Latitude Festival 2016. As an alumni of alternative stage school Carnesky’s Finishing School (CFS), Jefferies received mentorship and production support from artist Marisa Carnesky and cabaret performer/director Lisa Lee. The final, existing version of Syd and Sylvia was presented at CFS Soho -a four month pop-up performance school/space in the basement of the old Foyles building – in December 2016. It has since been performed at Hackney Showroom (London), Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 and as part of Calm Down Dear festival at Camden People’s Theatre and The Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter.


Photos by Jemima Yong