If you were in Edinburgh last summer, you would have been hard pressed to find a publication that was not raving about Sofie Hagen’s show Bubblewrap. Her show which won the Best Newcomer award at the Fringe has now transferred to the Soho Theatre. At the beginning of the show, she jokes that she has done the show “about a hundred times” but you would not know it as she eases into the material. Raised by a single parent in a small town in Denmark, she quickly developed a sense of self and what she wanted in life, with small acts of larceny condoned by her mother.
The main focus of her show is her passion she had for Irish boy band Westlife. Most people are slightly guilty or ashamed of the music they listened to in their teenage years. Not so for Hagen who revels in the ardour she had for Brian, Shane and the others. She was such a fan that she chased them down in a taxi, slept outside their hotel and even had other fans asking for her autograph. What makes the show so enjoyable is the mixture of her utter sincerity in professing her obsession and her comedic expertise in detailing its absurdity. She gets huge, thigh-slapping laughs from the short stories she wrote about imagined encounters with the band.
Whilst it might seem that these are easy laughs to get, she uses this material to explore much weightier issues such as mental health issues, body image and representation of women in the media. It is a credit to her and to the deft direction provided by Dec Munro that is all seamlessly woven together, and she is able to move from her time on a psychiatric ward to her embarrassment when meeting Nicky from the band without letting the energy of the show drop.
It is easy to see why the judges up in Edinburgh decided to award her with the Best Newcomer. Many of the shows that were also nominated showcased burgeoning comedic talent but none of them had the depth that Hagen provides in her debut hour. It is insightful, earnest, delightful and hilarious over and over again.
Bubblewrap runs until January 6 at:
21 Dean Street
Image by Karla Howlett