After being told by their therapist that three shows in a row about depression, anxiety and emotional trauma were maybe not the most helpful ways of dealing with their mental health issues, Sofie Hagen, emerging in pyjama bottoms to X 'Gon' Give It to Ya' by the late, great DMX, decided to do a nice fun show about a sex holiday in Swansea (of which their memories are decidedly patchy). Sounds lovely—which is exactly what they thought (incorrectly) about Swansea itself.
The Bumswing itself is a trivial story from childhood which has stayed vivid in the mind of a narrator who, as they tell us at the beginning of the show, has a very unreliable memory. They misremembered a bottle-sucking incident as a child and instead thought they had a strawberry allergy; they thought they hated Swansea but they actually loved it; they frantically called a friend to tell them all about a night out—immediately after said friend had left their house, having been on the night out with them. If they forget things like that, what actually happened in Swansea?
As comedy fans, we understand that comics use poetic license and embellish stories to make them funnier on stage. Hagen, however, claims to make a point of never lying—in person or on stage—because their repetition of a story is what embeds the memory for them, and to lie would change their memories and make them unsure of what they remember. As the audience we're made incredibly conscious of our laughter—early on, Hagen sets ups an iPad on which they're recording the show, displaying the waveform of their speech and our laughing back to us.
When the show reaches its climax, the soundwave flatlines, the mood changes, and the show culminates in a presentation of real-life trauma. It becomes clear this isn't one of the exaggerated or unclear memories we've been presented with before and it turns on its head what we thought we'd be hearing in a show called The Bumswing. Hagen's deft presentation maintains a (somewhat fraught) tension between comedy and darkness.
We went from what we thought would be merely a fun show to one that leaves you reeling a little as you leave. And yet, she ends with an excellent callback and visual gag to a joke she made at the start of the show. Throughout she tells us anecdotes about a sad version of E.T., why vegans have beef with her, why she hates magicians' 'repulsive, smug, cunty faces', the pain of wearing a jumpsuit on your period, how Swansea was like being catfished by a town and how sick the Danish queen is compared to the British one. Their slick show was effortless in its delivery, and leaves you with a very clear message: if you're invited on a sex holiday to Swansea, double check that there's a train instead of a coach.
Sofie Hagen - Bumswing was a one night only show. To see their future performances, visit www.sofiehagen.com/tour