Sofie Hagen follows up her ground-breaking debut with Shimmer Shatter, a reflection on finding love and happiness when you hate parties and think “all people are too many people.”
Hagen, winner of the Best Newcomer award at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe, is possibly Denmark’s most personable misanthrope. She paints herself as an introverted fun-sink, which is slightly at odds with the outgoing and commanding presence she presents on stage – the only place she feels in control, in her words, as Hagen also follows her debut hour by talking with admirable frankness about issues around her mental health and relationship breakdowns.
This is the breeziest of introspection, lightening and illuminating the storytelling rather than weighing it down. Hagen merges tales from her past, flitting between timelines with ease: one minute reliving a childhood play-wedding, the next recounting a “will-they-won’t-they” courtship and imagining dragons are real.
A third time stream, complementing childhood and adulthood, is her teenage years coping with depression, seeking support from mental health services and a deadbeat father. The purpose of this isn’t to arouse sympathy – although there’s a knowing aside about making sure the sob story realises cash in the bucket at the end. Rather, it’s all served in a matter-of-fact manner to try to explain her way of thinking about the world, and converges on a message of togetherness for introverted souls.
This is done in a way that feels absolutely unselfconscious, but the threads don’t quite come together closely enough in the end. It therefore doesn’t feel like we get the meaningful payoff the setup deserves, and the final reveal is underserved as a result. However, the earlier story hangs together nicely enough, and a narrative twist at the halfway-point is expertly pitched. There are also plenty of jokes, and reminiscences on Hagen’s extraordinarily successful year (including the varying calibre of below-the-line comments on YouTube compared to the Guardian).
Shimmer Shatter is told with charm and confidence, and a sense of easy-going fun that grips the crowd instantly. A little green, perhaps, as the oversized photo on stage attests, but you definitely feel that Hagen is in control, and will be for some time.