Writer and Performer: Sophie Hagen
It’s Sophie Hagen’s first live gig back since the country locked down in March 2020. Upon entering the hall the performer quickly confesses that, “I don’t know how to talk to people anymore”. If true, this would be a rather debilitating condition for someone who talks for a living, but thankfully the audience at the Brighton Dome can rest easy, as Hagen soon hits a comfortable stride and those gathered are thoroughly entertained for an hour of self aware commentary and finely weaved comedy call-backs, providing waves of laughter throughout the auditorium.
The Bumswing is the Danish comedian’s fourth solo tour. It’s intended to be a “lighter” in terms of content, after the first three shows covered the serious issues of overcoming a negative body image, anxiety and childhood trauma.
Having developed the piece for Edinburgh Fringe in 2019, Hagen’s immediate worry is about trying to recall the material and piece together the strands of thought from an unreliable memory. This is a nice construct that runs throughout The Bumswing, as we learn how her brain protects the comedian from distressing incidents and reconstructs a happier narrative.
Appearing totally relaxed and always in charge, Hagen delights the crowd with funny stories, which seem unconnected and random, about her lasting hatred of magicians, bum germs on a swing in a local park where she grew up and children killing chickens.
Hagen’s easy delivery and abundant charm means that, on several occasions, the artist can abuse the audience and goad the British for being absurd and we almost take it as a compliment, the laughter increasing with every turn of the screw. Confidently declaring the Queen of Denmark to be much better than our own and taking issue with Brits overly complex and apologising communication style all hit well with those watching. Hagen wields a sharp wit hidden within a velvet voice.
As the night goes on we find the comedy and pathos centring around a disastrous trip to Swansea. Hagen ramps up the funniness and brings in thought provoking elements to the comedy. The threads begin to draw together and the denouement comes into focus like a deranged magic eye puzzle or the end of a Miss Marple episode where she reveals a murder to an expectant throng.
The Bumswing is a well crafted and funny slice of entertainment that clearly displays Hagen has not forgotten how to talk to people, or make them giggle into a frenzy.
Reviewed on 26th May