Jewel is a one-woman show exploring the world of beauty pageants through clowning. Claudia Jefferies brought a family of contestants to life on the intimate stage as they competed against each other, each woman lived in an isolated fantasy world, distrusting the others.

Jefferies’s fierce and energetic performance was heightened by stark lighting choices, sometimes directed straight at the audience.

Claudia Jefferies herself had nowhere to hide, the stage empty save a few costumes and polystyrene heads skewered on poles. Sometimes it seemed like the menagerie of characters got on top of her and the constant costume changes flattened the forceful action.

With a little direction and restructuring, Jewel could emerge from the rough as an excellent and offbeat physical performance. Jefferies’s dance sequences and mask-like expressions were great; we just needed a little more time with the characters to absorb the narrative running through the piece.

The makeshift aesthetic of Jewel was successful, reflecting the crumbling reality of the characters. Jefferies succeeded in making American beauty pageants seem grotesque, seedy and ridiculous.

A bizarre and dreamlike piece, Jewel trod the line between live art and theatre.