Sofie Hagen

Sofie Hagen: Dead Baby Frog

15/08/17

Bedlam Theatre, Bristo Place, Edinburgh

I’m looking forward to this. I first encountered Sofie Hagen via Richard Herring’s podcast, RHLSTP (RHLSTP!), and then through The Guilty Feminist. We saw Shimmer Shatter at the Liquid Rooms last year, and really enjoyed it. So I’m keen to see what she’s offering this time.

Dead Baby Frog is about (trigger warning) emotional abuse. Specifically, it’s about Sofie’s step-grandfather, with whom she lived as a child, and his cruel, controlling ways. He sounds awful – a narcissistic, bullying man, with a fragile ego and a short fuse – and his behaviour has clearly had a huge impact on Hagen’s life.

It’s horribly fascinating, and yet somehow Dead Baby Frog feels like something of a missed opportunity: there’s definitely a good show in there, but it’s not yet fully realised. It’s not bad exactly – this is Sofie Hagen, after all, and there’s no denying she’s a funny woman who knows how to get a crowd onside – but it never really grows beyond its anecdotal origins. She says, “It’s not about me; it’s about people like me,” but doesn’t extrapolate anything from her own story. Nor does she really mine the situation for maximum comedy (which, admittedly, would be hard to do); it’s as though she needs to dig a little deeper to make this into a finished show.

She’s at her most confident and amusing when she’s on familiar ground: the Westlife bit is easily the most engaging. And there are moments when she hints at the profundity that might be there to be unearthed: the crossed fingers, the baby frogs, the art.

I’d be interested to see where this show ends up, assuming she tours it. And I’ll still be watching to see what she does next.

3 stars

Susan Singfield

 

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Sofie Hagen: Shimmer Shatter

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28/08/16

Liquid Rooms Annexe, Edinburgh

Last year, Sofie Hagen picked up the gong for best newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe, so you might have expected her to go for a bigger venue this time around – but no, she’s back on the Free Fringe at the Liquid Rooms again, and she’s at the door to greet us as we go in, a nice touch. Tonight is her last show of the festival, so she gives away a couple of tartan blankets, telling us that she won’t be needing them again.

She launches into her set. This year, it’s mostly about her difficult ‘friendship’ with her father, her problems with relationships, and her uncanny ability to suck the life out of any party she attends, mostly because her idea of small talk is to discuss the life of the serial killer, Ed Gein.

It’s interesting material, but Hagen’s real appeal is as a feminist icon, somebody who refuses to kowtow to the popular conceptions of what a woman ought to be. I find myself laughing along throughout the set and occasionally applauding when she makes a particularly telling point. All right, she might not yet have the power and pertinence of somebody like Sarah Kendall, but she’s still only young and has plenty of time to develop as a performer. Meanwhile, the quaintly titled Shimmer Shatter will do nicely.

As we leave, she’s at the door with the collection bucket and a box of badges, still smiling – and no doubt pleased to have made it through another three weeks of Festival madness in one piece.

4 stars

Philip Caveney

The Guilty Feminist with Sofie Hagen and Deborah Frances-White

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22/08/16

Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh

The Guilty Feminist is one of my favourite podcasts, and I enjoy being a member of the associated Facebook group, so I was very excited by the opportunity to see a live recording of the show.

Let’s be honest, though, a live recording of something that’s intended for another medium is rarely going to be a five star experience (sorry, Sofie! the podcast itself definitely merits the top rating, but the live show doesn’t… not quite). But this one certainly comes close.

The venue is packed out; the podcast’s popularity shows how well it chimes with the zeitgeist, and how appealing its non-preachy, inclusive approach to feminism is. And today’s topic, independence, is an interesting one, with special guest Mary Lynn Rajskub contributing some fascinating insights into a comic’s transient life.

In truth, all three women seem a little fringe-frazzled (Sofie complains of a hangover; Deborah, we learn, went to bed at 6am), but that’s only to be expected at this stage of an Edinburgh run. And the podcast is none the worse for it; their honest appraisals of how they feel and where they’re at are, in fact, what makes the programme so compelling. I’d like to hear more about Sofie’s mother and her “men leave; you have to learn to do it for yourself” philosophy, but there’s plenty here to hold my attention, and it’s as funny, challenging, emotional and demanding as regular listeners will have come to expect.

I wish I had the time to attend further recordings this week. I don’t. But I’m glad I’ve seen this one.

4.2 stars

Susan Singfield