Fringe Comedy

Gayle Anderson

Sofie Hagen

Liquid Room Annexe

Four stars

Felicity Ward


Four stars

Emily Tresidder

Gilded Balloon

Three stars

AROUND one third of the population are introverts. Sofie Hagen's show, Shimmer Shatter is a shout out to them. Well, more of a quiet acknowledgement. The Danish comedian hates crowds. She hates parties. She's telling us this in a nightclub. The irony is already up to 11.This is a much gentler hour than last year's award-winning debut but it's every bit as strange and skilled. She smiles her smile and talks her rhythmic, carefully-crafted talk of toilet sanctuaries, absent fathers and suicidal hamsters. Despite the size of the venue she creates a wonderfully intimate atmosphere. A crowded confessional filled with autobiographical angst and slyly sharp one-liners. There's even a childhood photograph where she looks like she's been swimming in the Rio Olympic pool. There's a growing band of comedians raising awareness of mental health issues in their sets and Sofie is undoubtedly their standard bearer. Here she describes her years of depression and psychotherapy. Her feelings of never quite fitting in. Her finding "all people are too many people." It's no Scandi-noir however. This redemptive tale, filled with dragons and hand-made husbands, encourages us all to celebrate our individuality and truly work that oddball.

Runs until August 28

IT IS weird to interrupt a show about mental illness to act in the craziest way possible, but that's exactly what Felicity Ward does. The title of this year's offering, 50% More Likely To Die refers to a scary statistic concerning people suffering from anxiety and depression. It's a meandering and masterfully-crafted monologue about how the Australian comic's learnt to live with her own mental health issues. In the seemingly everyday story of losing her travel bag on a recent trip, she takes more lengthy, convoluted detours than a dodgy cabbie. It's brilliantly paced, gloriously funny and features regular butt-clenchingly scary blasts from an air horn app. Sharp and self-mocking, she has the audience in her acid wash jeans pocket from the off. She raves about underwater headphones, rants about Londoner's lack of eye contact and leads a campaign for inside jacket pockets for women. And the crazy interruption? That comes when she takes a ten minute time out to introduce us to the downright daft delights of chicken karaoke. It's a highlight in a heart-warming show and one that leads to a journey of self discovery for this critic. For the very first time, I learnt that it's difficult to write a review whilst clucking.

Runs until August 29

AUSTRALIAN Emily Tresidder had a crazy idea. She'd write a comedy show that explored mental illness. Turns out it wasn't that crazy. Engaging and very likeable, Emily begins by describing her set as a "tactical vomit" as she plans to throw up a lot of random stuff. So far, so spewed. Early gags centre on the difficulties involved in defining madness. Her musical charades without music is fresh and fun and definitely gets the mainly millennial audience in the mood. Hers isn't the best onstage twerk I've seen this year but it definitely comes a close second. From time to time, Emily breaks off from the one liners and physical comedy and switches into storyteller mode. To help in our understanding of mental health issues she reads from a giant picture book she's written. Copies of the book - though not the giant version because that would just be downright daft- are available for sale afterwards with all proceeds going to mental health charities. The intention here is clearly a good one however these Jackanory-style interludes leave things feeling a little disjointed and downbeat. Overall though, this is a very funny show with a very serious message and should be applauded.

Runs until August 29